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Press Release

Statement on the Departure from the Justice Department of Principal Deputy Associate Attorney General Bill Baer

For Immediate Release
Office of Public Affairs

Principal Deputy Associate Attorney General and former Assistant Attorney General for Antitrust Bill Baer will depart the Justice Department at the conclusion of the Obama Administration on January 20.

“For the last four years, Bill Baer has led the Office of the Associate Attorney General and the Antitrust Division with exceptional talent and energy,” said Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch.  “Under his leadership, the department secured major litigation victories and settlements that have yielded real benefit to American consumers.  Bill deftly executed enforcement actions to address a wide range of misconduct, from fraud in the issuance of residential mortgage-backed securities, to international price-fixing cartels, to anticompetitive merger agreements.  And he has shown a special devotion to our veterans through his many contributions to the department’s efforts to uphold the rights and well-being of servicemembers and their families.  Throughout his tenure at the Justice Department, Bill has demonstrated an unwavering commitment to our mission, and I want to thank him for his extraordinary service, his outstanding leadership, and his friendship.”

“Serving with the dedicated men and women of the Justice Department has been the privilege of a lifetime,” said Principal Deputy Associate Attorney General Baer.  “I am proud to have contributed to the Department’s record of accomplishment over the past four years.  I will forever be grateful to the President and Attorneys General Lynch and Holder for the opportunity to serve the American people and further the cause of justice.”

Under Baer’s leadership, the Department in just the last week secured record settlements totaling $13.3 billion from Deutsche Bank, Credit Suisse, and Moody’s for misconduct in connection with residential mortgage-backed securities (RMBS).  The Department also sued Barclays and two of its former executives for their alleged RMBS misconduct.  Baer also issued a policy memorandum detailing the minimum requirements a corporation must meet to earn credit for cooperating in the resolution of civil matters.

Baer tirelessly advocated for those who serve our country in uniform, leading the Department’s Servicemembers and Veterans Initiative.  The Initiative enforces laws that protect employment, voting, and financial rights of servicemembers, veterans, and their families.  Baer’s stewardship as Chair of the Initiative’s coordinating committee ensured that the Initiative has a permanent home within the Office of the Associate Attorney General and remains connected to each litigating component and U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Baer’s 40 months as head of the Antitrust Division produced unprecedented results.  Since early 2013 the Division has filed criminal charges against 77 corporations, convicted 67, and obtained a record $6.3 billion in criminal fines and penalties.  It jailed 84 individuals with an average term of 17 months and secured the first-ever extradition for an antitrust offense.  As a result of a joint investigation with the Criminal Division, four banks pleaded guilty to conspiring to manipulate the price of U.S. dollars and euros exchanged in the foreign currency exchange spot market, and a fifth bank saw its deferred prosecution agreement revoked for its role in the conspiracy.  The five – Citicorp, JPMorgan Chase & Co., Barclays PLC, UBS AG and The Royal Bank of Scotland plc – agreed to pay criminal fines totaling more than $2.7 billion.  Thus far, two individuals have pleaded guilty and three more have been charged for their participation in foreign currency manipulation. 

Robust civil antitrust enforcement was another hallmark of Baer’s tenure at the Department.  The Division successfully challenged or secured abandonment of 25 anticompetitive transactions, including Halliburton/Baker Hughes, the proposed combination of two of the three largest globally-integrated oilfield services providers.  The Division successfully challenged at trial and unwound Bazaarvoice’s acquisition of its primary competitor in the market for ratings and reviews platforms, PowerReviews.  The Division is currently awaiting rulings following bench trials challenging Anthem’s acquisition of Cigna and Aetna’s purchase of Humana.  The Division also preserved competition through divestitures in many markets.  After DOJ sued, Anheuser-Busch InBev agreed to divest Grupo Modelo’s entire U.S. business to an independent competitor.  The Division’s challenge to the US Airways and American Airlines merger resulted in a settlement opening up landing slots and making critical gates available in our nation’s most constrained airports – relief that produced enduring procompetitive, output enhancing effects.  A later case blocked United Airlines from monopolizing take-off and landing slots at Newark.

Some 35 civil conduct cases produced meaningful outcomes for competition and consumers. The Division’s court victory against Apple restored competitive conditions for e-book sales and prevented the company and its senior executives from conspiring to thwart competition in the future.  EBay was barred from entering into anticompetitive agreements with other high tech firms not to hire or solicit each other’s employees.  Disgorgement of ill-gotten corporate gains was another priority.  The Division’s action against Twin America yielded $7.5 million in disgorgement, and Flakeboard America Ltd was compelled to disgorge $1.15 million of unlawful profits.

Working together with federal and state colleagues and with competition enforcers around the globe, the Antitrust Division successfully urged that competition principles guide policymakers in sectors ranging from transportation and energy to intellectual property and the internet.

Baer was confirmed by the U.S. Senate as Assistant Attorney General for the Antitrust Division on December 30, 2012.  He was the longest-serving Assistant Attorney General of the Antitrust Division in modern times.

Prior to joining the Justice Department, Baer was Partner and Head of the Antitrust Practice Group in the law firm of Arnold & Porter LLP.  He earlier served as Director of the Bureau of Competition at the Federal Trade Commission.  He is a graduate of Lawrence University and Stanford Law School.

Updated March 17, 2017

Office and Personnel Updates
Press Release Number: 17-091