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Australia: Study forecasts increased cartel enforcement

 |  August 1, 2017

Alen & Overy released the mid-year findings from its Global Cartel Enforcement Report with data on cartel activity around the world, predicting increased activity from Australia’s corporate regulator in the second half of 2017.

The firm noted that the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has issued only one fine so far this year, totalling US$7 million, against an automotive manufacturer.

Globally, cartel fines totalled US$1.64 billion for the first half, but the figure is heavily influenced by the nearly US$1 billion in fines the European Commission re-imposed on air cargo carriers this year. With these specific fines removed, totals are significantly below mid-2016 levels.

However, the decrease in fines in Australia doesn’t mean that the ACCC has decided to slow down, said Peter McDonald, who is A&O’s Asia and Pacific competition head.

“The lower level of fines recorded in recent months in Australia does not suggest a slowing of enforcement activity. These investigations and legal proceedings take time and tend to deliver ‘lumpy’ results,” he tells Australasian Lawyer. “In Australia, competition laws are well established and the ACCC is very active. Recent cases and public statements show the regulator is seeking to dramatically increase the value of corporate fines and to bring criminal prosecutions against individuals.”

A&O is expecting to see increased activity in the second half of 2017, he said, particularly because the ACCC is awaiting judgments on a number of proceedings, most notably its High Court appeal case against Flight Centre. Further outcomes will likely be seen in the coming months.

Full Content: Australasian Lawyer & Allen & Overy

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