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To get a better understanding of the state of antitrust enforcement we sat down with Andrew Mast, Counsel to the Assistant Attorney General for Antitrust at the US Department of Justice. In this podcast he shares key priorities of the Antitrust Division.
First up is a discussion of the Supply Chain Initiative, which is a partnership between the DOJ and FBI. Supply chain disruptions have caused prices to increase, as we have all seen, and the Initiative is tasked with determining whether the disruptions have been used as a cover for collusive conduct. As he notes, past disruptions, ranging from the Great Recession to a spike in the price of tuna, have led to collusive behavior.
To help protect consumers and businesses dependent on their supply chains, the Initiative is taking a proactive approach, working closely with the governments of the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, sharing intelligence and working cooperatively.
The DOJ is also reaching out to the business community, providing education about antitrust laws, encouraging the development of compliance programs, and sharing details about the Antitrust Division’s leniency program. Under it, the first conspirator in a price-fixing conspiracy can avoid criminal prosecutions. But, he warns, companies must report promptly after discovering collusive behavior to enjoy the full benefits.
To help business understand the program fully, a new FAQ is now available.
Another priority for the Department of Justice is labor market collusion. Their goal is to ensure workers gain the benefits of competition. In the Department’s view, no-poach and similar agreements lead to lower wages, reduced mobility and less ability for workers to negotiate watches. Several firms have already been indicted.
Finally, he discusses the Procurement Collusion Strike Force, founded in the wake of increased government spending such as the $1.2 billion infrastructure bill. The goals of the Task Force are to deter antitrust activity and to facilitate more effective prevention, investigation and prosecution. Over 20,000 individuals have been trained as a part of this initiative, and it covers both US procurement domestically and internationally.
Listen in to learn more about what the DOJ is doing, and what compliance teams should be thinking about.