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India Introduces ‘Leniency Plus’ Regime to Revolutionize Cartel Detection

 |  February 20, 2024

The Corporate Affairs Ministry (MCA) has announced the implementation of the ‘Leniency Plus’ regime, heralding a new era for antitrust enforcement in the country. The initiative, notified by the MCA, empowers the Competition Commission of India (CCI) to deploy an innovative cartel-detecting tool, poised to uncover clandestine collusion among companies.

Under the ‘Leniency Plus’ regime, corporations embroiled in investigations for one cartel are incentivized to disclose information about other undisclosed cartels to the CCI. This proactive antitrust strategy not only aids in the discovery of covert collusions but also facilitates the procurement of insider evidence crucial for enforcement actions.

The MCA’s latest announcement, which activates the pertinent provisions in the Competition (Amendment) Act 2023, signals a significant milestone, laying the groundwork for the CCI to formulate corresponding regulations. Sources familiar with the matter suggest that this regulatory framework is poised to drive a paradigm shift in India’s approach to antitrust enforcement.

Effective February 20, the MCA’s declaration underscores the official commencement of the ‘Leniency Plus’ provisions. This mechanism, designed to incentivize cooperation from companies entangled in antitrust probes, promises a dual benefit. Companies coming forward with disclosures stand to receive leniency in penalties concerning the initial cartel under investigation, while simultaneously securing reduced penalties for any additional undisclosed cartels they reveal.

The introduction of ‘Leniency Plus’ underscores India’s commitment to enhancing competition enforcement mechanisms and fostering a more transparent and fair marketplace. By encouraging self-reporting and cooperation from implicated entities, authorities aim to dismantle illicit collaborations that undermine healthy competition.

Experts anticipate that the implementation of the ‘Leniency Plus’ regime will significantly bolster the CCI’s ability to detect and prosecute antitrust violations, ultimately fostering a more competitive and equitable economic environment in India. As the country navigates the complexities of modern markets, initiatives such as these are poised to play a pivotal role in safeguarding consumer interests and promoting a level playing field for businesses across diverse sectors.

Source: The Hindu Business Line