Business Litigation Alert: "Antitrust Enforcement is Alive and Well"

In recent years there has been a great deal of media coverage and professional CLE programming on Foreign Corrupt Practice Act prosecutions and enforcement actions brought by the Department of Justice ("DOJ") and the Securities and Exchange Commission. As a result, general counsel and corporate executives may have lost focus on ensuring compliance with the antitrust laws. However, the DOJ’s Antitrust Division is proudly proclaiming that antitrust enforcement is alive and well. Perhaps, it is stronger than ever.

The Division recently announced that in the 2013 fiscal year ending September 30, it obtained criminal fines exceeding $1.0 Billion for the second year in a row. These financial penalties were coupled with jail terms for numerous corporate executives. While much of the Division’s recent focus has been on foreign-based corporations, that emphasis should not be construed as a lack of commitment to antitrust enforcement against U.S.-based corporations

In light of the DOJ's continued commitment to antitrust enforcement, general counsel and company boards must ensure that their companies’ antitrust compliance policies and education programs are robust and effective and that emphasis on compliance by their employees remains a priority. The flip side of Ben Franklin’s adage that "an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure" is that foregoing an ounce of antitrust compliance education today can result in a metric ton of punishment tomorrow.

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