By Andrew Longstreth
NEW YORK, Jan 8 (Reuters) - For antitrust authorities around
the world, 2012 was a banner year as they racked up record
criminal fines, according to a new report.
In the United States, the Justice Department obtained an
estimated $1.13 billion in fines from antitrust offenders in
fiscal year 2012, the most ever, according to the report, which
was prepared by the law firm Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher.
That figure, which surpassed the $1 billion in fines
collected in the 2009 fiscal year, was mostly due to an
investigation into the auto parts industry. More than half of
the fines collected came from companies targeted in the probe,
which the Justice Department has said was its biggest ever.
Other large fines came from companies swept up in a government
probe of price-fixing of liquid crystal displays and an
investigation into bid-rigging in the municipal bond market.
Another record was set by the European Commission, which
imposed the largest fine ever in its history, $1.97 billion
against seven companies for their participation in an alleged
conspiracy to fix prices for TV and computer monitor cathode ray
tubes. Competition authorities in India also levied their
largest fine in 2012, $1.1 billion against 11 cement
Big numbers in criminal fines are expected to continue this
year, according to Gibson Dunn. A major contributor may be
China, which signed an agreement to cooperate more with
antitrust authorities in Europe and which has launched its first
investigation into cartel activity outside the country.
"These developments, coupled with the introduction of
investigations in extraterritorial conduct, may mark a new
period of aggressive enforcement of global cartel activity,"
according to the report.
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