Press Release

Morgan Lewis: Global Cartel Fines Increased More Than 200% in Second Year of Pandemic

Wednesday, January 5, 2022

LONDON, January 5, 2022: Morgan Lewis has published its Global Cartel Enforcement Report 2021, a comprehensive analysis of the most notable cartel enforcement activity during the past 12 months that resulted in $4.6 billion in total fines by enforcement authorities around the world and details key trends that may impact the year ahead.

The $4.6 billion in total global fines represents a massive 229% increase over the $1.4 billion in fines imposed in 2020, according to the firm’s industry-recognized antitrust and competition team. The highest total fines were leveled in the European Union, South Korea, and Brazil. The United States, however, experienced a significant 77% drop in total fines of just $150.1 million in 2021 compared with $639 million in 2020. Worldwide, the automobile, financial services, and steel industries were fined the harshest penalties in 2021.

Enforcement agencies in the European Union and North and South America kept a heightened focus on issues related to labor market competition, the report also noted. Additionally, competition in digital markets, including the role algorithms and artificial intelligence play in coordination and price fixing, remained a priority for enforcers even as the COVID-19 pandemic again in 2021 hampered investigation and enforcement abilities with challenges posed by remote working and the redirection of resources to monitor fraud, price gouging, and related public assistance schemes.

Morgan Lewis has acted as US, European, and global coordinating counsel for multinational corporations in virtually every major international cartel investigation of the last 30 years, guiding clients through every stage of the process. Our antitrust and competition lawyers have coordinated multijurisdictional cartel investigations and civil litigation and have defended some of the world’s largest corporations in high-stakes treble-damages class actions involving allegations of price fixing and other cartel misconduct. The firm also assist clients in establishing compliance programs to prevent or detect cartel conduct that may result in criminal liability and helps design compliance programs that mitigate sentencing consequences. Learn more about the firm’s antitrust and competition practice.

Read the Global Cartel Enforcement Report 2021.