The Decline in U.S. Criminal Antitrust Cases: ACPERA and Leniency in an International Context

Forthcoming, Albert A. Foer, Liber Amicorum, Nicolas Charbit et al, ed. (2020).

George Mason Law & Economics Research Paper No. 19-31

25 Pages Posted: 6 Oct 2019 Last revised: 7 Oct 2019

See all articles by Douglas H. Ginsburg

Douglas H. Ginsburg

U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit; George Mason University - Antonin Scalia Law School, Faculty

Cecilia (Yixi) Cheng

Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit

Date Written: September 26, 2019

Abstract

Criminal cartel cases in the U.S. are at modern lows, spurring questions as to whether the Antitrust Criminal Penalty Enhancement and Reform Act of 2004 (ACPERA) and the Antitrust Division’s criminal enforcement program continue to be effective and, if not, why not? In this Chapter, we offer three non-exclusive hypotheses for the recent decline:

(1) increasingly large fines in multiple jurisdictions have lessened the incentive to apply for leniency in any one jurisdiction;

(2) technology has caused the substitution of lawful tacit for unlawful express collusion; and

(3) ACPERA and the Division’s criminal program have succeeded in deterring cartel formation – at least among U.S. companies.

Our analysis of the Antitrust Case Filings database leads us to be tentatively optimistic about the third possibility: Over the last decade, the number and percentage of foreign as opposed to U.S. corporate defendants has increased dramatically.

Keywords: ACPERA, criminal antitrust, enforcement, enforcement statistics, cartels, tacit collusion, leniency, collusion, price-fixing, antitrust enforcement, cartel enforcement

JEL Classification: K2, K21, L4, L40, L49

Suggested Citation

Ginsburg, Douglas H. and Cheng, Cecilia (Yixi), The Decline in U.S. Criminal Antitrust Cases: ACPERA and Leniency in an International Context (September 26, 2019). Forthcoming, Albert A. Foer, Liber Amicorum, Nicolas Charbit et al, ed. (2020).; George Mason Law & Economics Research Paper No. 19-31. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3460091 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3460091

Douglas H. Ginsburg (Contact Author)

U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ( email )

333 Constitution Ave NW
Room 5523
Washington, DC 20001
United States

George Mason University - Antonin Scalia Law School, Faculty ( email )

3301 Fairfax Drive
Arlington, VA 22201
United States

Cecilia (Yixi) Cheng

Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ( email )

United States

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