Justice Department Investigates Anticompetitive Conduct in the Automobile Parts Industry
The Department’s ongoing investigation into price-fixing, bid rigging, and other anticompetitive conduct in the automobile parts industry has resulted in guilty pleas from nine companies and 12 executives. To date, the investigation has resulted in more than $809 million in criminal fines, including a $470 million fine against Yazaki Corp.—the third-largest criminal antitrust fine ever imposed. Two of the executives charged are citizens of Japan. Each was sentenced in 2012 to serve two years in prison—the longest prison term imposed on a foreign national voluntarily submitting to U.S. jurisdiction for an antitrust violation.
To date, the following corporate fines have been obtained:
- U.S. v. Yazaki Corporation, $470 million—the third largest criminal fine ever for an antitrust violation
- U.S. v. Furukawa Electric Company Ltd., $200 million
- U.S. v. DENSO Corporation, $78 million
- U.S. v. Fujikura Ltd., $20 million
- U.S. v. Tokai Rika Co., Ltd., $17.7 million
- U.S. v. Autoliv, Inc., $14.5 million
- U.S. v. TRW Deutschland Holding GMBH, $5.7 million
- U.S. v. G.S. Electech, Inc., $2.7 million
- U.S. v. Nippon Seiki Co., Ltd., $1 million
November 16, 2012
October 30, 2012
August 28, 2012
August 16, 2012
July 30, 2012
June 6, 2012
April 26, 2012
April 23, 2012
April 3, 2012
March 26, 2012
January 30, 2012
Justice Department Investigates Price-Fixing in Liquid Crystal Display (LCD) Panel Industry
The Department’s ongoing investigation into price-fixing in the LCD panel industry has resulted in criminal fines totaling $1.39 billion. As a result of the investigation, 10 companies and 13 executives have been convicted or found guilty. On March 13, 2012, following an eight-week trial, a jury in the Northern District of California returned guilty verdicts against Taiwan-based AU Optronics (AUO), its American subsidiary, AU Optronics America, and the former president and former vice president of AUO for their participation in the price-fixing conspiracy. On September 20, 2012, AUO was sentenced to pay a $500 million fine and the convicted executives each were sentenced to serve three years in prison. In December 2012, the Department retried a third AUO executive after the jury in the March trial was unable to return a unanimous verdict. After a three week trial, on December 18, 2013, the third executive was found guilty.
December 18, 2012
September 20, 2012
March 13, 2012
Justice Department Investigates Anticompetitive and Fraudulent Conduct in the Financial Services Industry
In 2012, the Department continued to investigate anticompetitive and fraudulent conduct in the financial services industry. The Department’s ongoing investigation into bid rigging in the municipal bonds market has resulted in convictions against 19 individuals and one company, including convictions against six individuals at two separate jury trials. In May 2012, three former General Electric Co. executives were convicted for their participation in conspiracies related to bidding for contracts for the investment of municipal bond proceeds and other municipal finance contracts. In August 2012, three former UBS AG executives were convicted at trial of conspiracy and fraud charges for corrupting the bidding process for more than a dozen investment agreements to increase the number and profitability of the agreements awarded to UBS. The municipal bonds investigation has also produced settlements with a number of large financial institutions involved in the conspiracies. To date, the implicated firms have agreed to pay a total of nearly $745 million in restitution, penalties, and disgorgement to Federal and state agencies.
On February 6, 2013, the Department’s investigation into manipulation of the London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR) resulted in RBS Securities Japan Limited, a wholly owned subsidiary of The Royal Bank of Scotland plc (RBS), agreeing to plead guilty to a criminal information charging it with one count of wire fraud for engaging in a scheme to defraud counterparties to interest rate derivatives trades by secretly manipulating the Japanese Yen LIBOR and to pay a $50 million fine. Additionally, it was announced that a criminal information also would be filed against parent company RBS as part of a deferred prosecution agreement (DPA), charging RBS with wire fraud for its role in manipulating LIBOR benchmark interest rates, and with participation in a price-fixing conspiracy by rigging the Yen LIBOR benchmark interest rate with other banks. As part of the DPA, the bank must admit and accept responsibility for its misconduct, and continue cooperating with the Justice Department in its ongoing investigation. It also had to pay a $100 million penalty beyond the fine imposed on RBS Securities Japan. In December 2012, a criminal complaint was unsealed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, charging two former senior UBS traders with colluding to manipulate the Yen LIBOR rate. These defendants remain fugitives.
February 6, 2013
January 3, 2013
December 19, 2012
October 18, 2012
August 31, 2012
July 20, 2012
July 18, 2012
May 11, 2012
Justice Department Investigates Price-Fixing, Bid Rigging, and Other Anticompetitive Conduct in the Coastal Water Freight Transportation Industry
The department’s ongoing investigation into price-fixing, bid rigging, and other anticompetitive conduct in the coastal water freight transportation industry has resulted in convictions against three companies and six individuals. On January 29, 2013, following a two-week trial, a jury in Puerto Rico convicted the former president of a coastal shipping company for his participation in a conspiracy to fix rates and surcharges for freight between the continental United States and Puerto Rico. He now awaits sentencing. Additionally, on March 21, 2013, a seventh individual was indicted for his role in a conspiracy to fix prices on coastal freight services. To date, the investigation has resulted in $46 million in criminal fines and prison sentences for five individuals ranging from seven months to four years.
January 29, 2013
August 1, 2012
November 17, 2011
Justice Department Investigates Bid Rigging, Fraud, and other Anticompetitive Conduct at Real Estate Foreclosure Auctions and Municipal Tax Lien Auctions
To date, 53 individuals and two companies have been charged in the Department’s ongoing investigation into bid rigging and fraud at public real estate foreclosure auctions in Alabama, California, and North Carolina.
The Department also is investigating similar anticompetitive conduct at municipal tax lien auctions. Eight individuals and three companies have pleaded guilty as part of an ongoing investigation into bid rigging and fraud related to municipal tax lien auctions in New Jersey.
March 7, 2013
February 5, 2013
December 19, 2012
December 12, 2012
November 8, 2012
November 1, 2012
September 26, 2012
August 15, 2012
July 24, 2012
June 28, 2012
June 7, 2012
April 27, 2012
April 26, 2012
April 23, 2012
April 20, 2012
April 17, 2012
March 27, 2012
Justice Department Files Antitrust Lawsuit Challenging Anheuser-Busch InBev’s Proposed Acquisition of Grupo Modelo
On January 31, 2013, the Department filed a lawsuit to block Anheuser-Busch InBev’s (ABI) proposed acquisition of total ownership and control of Grupo Modelo. The transaction would join the largest and third-largest firms in the $80 billion U.S. beer market and add the Corona and Modelo brands to ABI’s already robust portfolio. The lawsuit, which is currently pending, seeks to preserve Grupo Modelo as an important, independent competitive force.
January 31, 2013
Justice Department Files Antitrust Lawsuit Against Bazaarvoice Regarding the Company’s Acquisition of PowerReviews
In January 2013, the Department filed a civil antitrust lawsuit against Bazaarvoice Inc. challenging the company’s June 2012 acquisition of PowerReviews Inc. The Department said that the $168.2 million transaction substantially lessened competition in the market for product ratings and reviews platforms in the United States, resulting in higher prices and diminished innovation. The trial is set to begin on September 10, 2013.
January 10, 2013
Justice Department Files Antitrust Lawsuit Against New York City Tour Bus Joint Venture
The Department and New York State Attorney General filed a civil antitrust lawsuit against a tour bus joint venture formed by Coach USA Inc. and City Sights LLC alleging that the joint venture, known as Twin America LLC, has resulted in higher prices for hop-on, hop-off bus tours in New York City. The Department said that the formation of Twin America gave Coach and City Sights a monopoly over the more than $100 million New York City hop-on, hop-off bus tour market and enabled Coach and City Sights to increase prices to consumers by approximately 10 percent for tourists visiting some of New York City’s leading attractions. The litigation is currently pending.
December 11, 2012
Amerigroup’s Divestiture of Its Virginia Operations Addresses Justice Department’s Concerns with Wellpoint’s Proposed Acquisition of Amerigroup
Amerigroup Corp.’s sale of its subsidiary, Amerigroup Virginia Inc., addressed the Department’s concerns with WellPoint Inc.’s proposed acquisition of Amerigroup. The Department said that the merger, as originally proposed, would have substantially lessened competition in the provision of Medicaid managed care plans in Northern Virginia. WellPoint and Amerigroup are the only two providers of Medicaid managed care plans in Northern Virginia.
November 28, 2012
3M Abandons Proposed Acquisition of Avery Dennison’s Office and Consumer Products Group After Justice Department Threatens Lawsuit
3M Co. abandoned its plan to acquire Avery Dennison Corp.’s Office and Consumer Products Group, its closest competitor in the sale of adhesive-backed labels and sticky notes, after the Department informed the companies that it would file a civil antitrust lawsuit to block the deal. The proposed acquisition would have substantially lessened competition in the sale of labels and sticky notes, resulting in higher prices and reduced innovation for products that millions of American consumers use every day.
September 4, 2012
Justice Department Requires Changes to Verizon-Cable Company Transactions to Protect Consumers, Allows Procompetitive Spectrum Acquisitions to Go Forward
The Department required Verizon and four of the nation’s largest cable companies—Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Bright House Networks, and Cox Communications—to make changes to a series of agreements concerning both the sale of bundled wireless and wireline services, and the formation of a technology research joint venture. The Department said that, if left unaltered, the agreements would have harmed competition by diminishing the companies’ incentive to compete, resulting in higher prices and lower quality for consumers. The announcement came after a closely coordinated investigation with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), with additional assistance provided by the New York State Attorney General’s Office.
August 16, 2012
Justice Department Requires Divestitures in Order for United Technologies to Proceed with Acquisition of Goodrich
The Department required United Technologies Corporation (UTC) to divest certain assets used in the production of electrical power systems and aircraft engine control systems in order to proceed with its $18.4 billion acquisition of Goodrich Corporation—the largest merger in the history of the aircraft industry. The acquisition, as originally proposed, likely would have resulted in higher prices, less favorable contractual terms, and less innovation for several critical aircraft components, including generators, engines, and engine control systems.
July 26, 2012
Justice Department Files Motion to Dismiss Antitrust Lawsuit Against Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan After State Passes Law to Prohibit Health Insurers from Using Most-Favored-Nation Clauses
In October 2010, the Department, along with the state of Michigan, filed a civil antitrust lawsuit against Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan (BCBSM) alleging that the most-favored-nation (MFN) provisions of its agreements with hospitals raise hospital prices, prevent other insurers from entering the marketplace, and discourage discounts. On March 25, 2013, the Department filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit after the state of Michigan passed a law that prohibits health insurers from using MFNs with health care providers. The combination of the new law and a previous order by the Michigan Insurance Commissioner that prohibits MFN clauses in health insurers’ provider contracts provides the relief the Department sought in its lawsuit, rendering further proceedings unnecessary. The parties moved the court to dismiss the case without prejudice and the court granted the motion on March 28, 2013.
March 25, 2013
Justice Department Files Motion to Dismiss Antitrust Lawsuit against Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan after Michigan Passes Law to Prohibit Health Insurers from Using Most-Favored-Nation Clauses in Provider Contracts
October 18, 2010
Justice Department Files Lawsuit Against Apple and Five Publishers for Conspiring to Raise Prices of E-Books
On April 11, 2012, the Department filed a civil lawsuit against Apple Inc. and five of the largest book publishers in the United States—Hachette Book Group (USA), HarperCollins Publishers L.L.C., Simon & Schuster Inc., Holtzbrinck Publishers LLC, which does business as Macmillan, and Penguin Group (USA)—for conspiring to end e-book retailers’ freedom to compete on price, take control of pricing from e-book retailers, and substantially increase the prices that consumers pay for e-books. The Department has settled with the five publishers and continues to litigate against Apple. The trial against Apple is scheduled to begin in June 2013.
February 8, 2013
December 18, 2012
April 11, 2012
Justice Department Reaches Settlement with Three of the Largest Book Publishers and Continues to Litigate Against Apple Inc. and Two Other Publishers to Restore Price Competition and Reduce E-Book Prices
April 11, 2012
Justice Department Files Lawsuit Against eBay Over Agreement Not to Hire Intuit Employees
In November 2012, the Department filed a civil antitrust lawsuit against eBay Inc., alleging that it violated the antitrust laws when it entered into an agreement not to recruit or hire Intuit Inc.’s employees. The Department said that the agreement eliminated a significant form of competition to the detriment of affected employees who likely were deprived of access to better job opportunities and salaries. The litigation is ongoing.
November 16, 2013
Justice Department Settles Civil Contempt Claim Against Exelon Corporation
Exelon Corporation agreed to pay $400,000 as part of a civil settlement with the Department of Justice that resolves Exelon’s alleged violations of two court orders entered in connection with Exelon’s acquisition of Constellation Energy Group.
November 15, 2012
Justice Department Closes Investigation into Entergy’s Acquisition of Hinds and Hot Spring Power Plants, Continues Investigation in Alleged Exclusionary Conduct
After a thorough review, and in light of the forthcoming changes in Entergy’s service area, the Antitrust Division determined that Entergy’s acquisitions of KGen’s power plants in Jackson, Mississippi, and Hot Spring County, Arkansas, were unlikely to substantially lessen competition, and closed its investigation into the proposed transactions. In addition to the merger investigation of the KGen transactions, the Department has been examining allegations that Entergy has engaged in exclusionary conduct in its four-state utility service area, spanning parts of Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas. That investigation remains open.
November 14, 2012
Justice Department and Federal Trade Commission Hold Joint Workshops on Most-Favored-Nation Clauses and Patent Assertion Entity Activities
In 2012, the Department and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) held two joint public workshops: one on the use of most-favored-nation clauses and their implications for antitrust enforcement and policy, the other on the impact of patent assertion entity (PAE) activities on innovation and competition. Both workshops provided a forum for industry participants, academics, economists, lawyers, and other interested parties to discuss these cutting-edge competition issues.
December 7, 2012
August 17, 2012
Justice Department and U.S. Patent and Trademark Office Issue Joint Policy Statement Regarding Remedies for Standards-Essential Patents Subject to Voluntary F/RAND Licensing Commitments
In January 2013, the Department and the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office issued a joint policy statement on remedies for standards-essential patents subject to voluntary F/RAND licensing commitments, which included recommendations to the U.S. International Trade Commission.
January 8, 2013
July 11, 2012
Justice Department and Federal Trade Commission Sign Memorandum of Understanding with Indian Competition Authorities
On September 27, 2012, the Department and the FTC signed an antitrust memorandum of understanding with the Government of India Ministry of Corporate Affairs and the Competition Commission of India to promote increased cooperation and communication among competition agencies in both countries. The ceremony took place in Washington, D.C.
September 27, 2012