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Division Update Spring 2010

AAG Message

Christine Varney

Assistant Attorney General, Antitrust Division

When I first arrived at the Department, I said that there is no substitute for a competitive marketplace. I also stressed the importance of vigorous antitrust enforcement so that American consumers and businesses can reap the benefits of an open and fair marketplace. Over the past year, the men and women of the Antitrust Division have worked tirelessly and effectively on all antitrust enforcement fronts—criminal, merger, and civil non-merger—to ensure that the marketplace remains competitive.

This past year, the Division secured some of the largest criminal fines and longest jail sentences in its history. Through vigorous enforcement of criminal antitrust laws, the Division prosecuted price-fixing, bid-rigging, and market allocation charges in a variety of industries, including liquid crystal display panels, municipal bonds, air transportation services, and environmental services.

In the civil area, the Division challenged mergers in important sectors of the economy including healthcare, ticketing, and dairy. The Division took enforcement action in the civil non-merger area in order to protect consumers from the effects of illegal agreements in various industries, including financial services and real estate.

Providing transparency to American consumers and businesses continues to be a significant priority of the Division. The Division promoted its competition advocacy efforts by filing “friend of the court” briefs in important antitrust cases, issuing more detailed competitive impact statements, and enhancing cooperation with our antitrust enforcement partners.

Increasing the Division’s cooperation and coordination both with other federal and state agencies and with our competition counterparts around the world is a high priority. The joint Department of Justice and Department of Agriculture workshops brought both the Attorney General and the Secretary of Agriculture to Ankeny, Iowa, to hear from affected farmers, and helped elevate conversations about the state of agricultural markets. These workshops constitute just one of the many recent examples of inter-agency cooperation.

In the international arena, the Division’s efforts to communicate more effectively with international antitrust agencies have resulted in better coordinated investigations and remedies. It is an area in which we will continue to improve.

It is a privilege to work with Attorney General Holder and the dedicated men and women of the Antitrust Division who work to protect and promote competition on behalf of American consumers and the economy. I look forward to continuing our work together to ensure that American consumers and businesses receive the benefits of an open and fair marketplace.

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