As in recent years, 2014 saw competition authorities worldwide continue to aggressively investigate and prosecute cartel activity.
Although the US Department of Justice (DOJ) may have pioneered aggressive cartel enforcement, it no longer necessarily obtains the highest fines, nor is it now alone in seeking imprisonment as a punishment. In 2014, the European Union led the way on cartel fines. The jurisdiction with the second-highest cartel fine amount was Brazil, whose Administrative Council for Economic Defense (CADE) made good on its leaders’ promises earlier in 2014 to seek aggressive cartel fines. The DOJ, finishing multiyear investigations and prosecutions into cartel activity in the auto parts industry, came in third place for Sherman Act fines. Asian competition agencies rounded out the majority of cartel fines this year, focusing on a myriad of industries, including, but not limited to, capacitors, concrete, shipping, cardboard, and construction.
Global competition enforcement agencies—led not only by the DOJ but also by authorities in Europe, South America, and Asia—continue to aggressively investigate and prosecute international cartels. All indications are that this trend will continue in the future.