Doing Hard Time: The Antitrust Division Sets Records in Number of Individuals Sentenced and in Number of Criminal Trials

Division Update Spring 2018

In the past year, the Antitrust Division devoted substantial resources to individual prosecutions and sentencings. These efforts have resulted in 30 individuals sentenced to prison terms in FY2017—the highest number of individual prison terms imposed since 2012.

Many of the Division’s individual convictions were the result of investigations into anticompetitive conduct at public real estate foreclosure auctions in various regions throughout the United States. This conduct was widespread and harmed homeowners and lending institutions. The Division’s prosecutions of real estate investors who rigged bids at foreclosure auctions typically have not resulted in large fines—though the Division has successfully sought substantial amounts of restitution in these cases.

In the past year, the Division’s resources were also focused on trying cases; a record-setting number of criminal cases (nine) went to trial in FY2017. This is the largest number of criminal Antitrust Division trials in the era of modern criminal antitrust enforcement. And with six trials anticipated in the next year, the Division’s pace is not letting up.

In recent years, the Antitrust Division’s criminal enforcement efforts have led to record-breaking statistics. Those statistics, particularly for criminal fines, were driven largely by investigations into collusion in the auto parts and financial services industries. As a result, from 2012 through 2015, the Division assessed criminal fines over $1 billion each year, with a high of $3.6 billion in 2015. These investigations are now in their later stages, with corporate plea resolutions largely completed.

The Division’s resources in these investigations are now focused on trials against the remaining individuals and companies, with several cases headed to trial in the upcoming months. Other high-priority matters, in key industries for American consumers, are in relatively early stages of investigation.

Updated April 10, 2018

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