Effectiveness of Antitrust Sanctions on Modern International Cartels

Journal of Industry, Competition, and Trade 6 (2006): 195-223

29 Pages Posted: 31 May 2007 Last revised: 9 Mar 2013

See all articles by John M. Connor

John M. Connor

American Antitrust Institute (AAI); Purdue University

Date Written: December 1, 2006


This paper assesses the antitrust fines and private penalties imposed on the participants of 260 international cartels discovered during 1990-2005, using four indicators of enforcement effectiveness. First, the United States is almost always the first to investigate and sanction international cartels, and its investigations are about seven times faster than EU probes. Second, U.S. investigations were more likely to be kept confidential than those in Europe, but the gap nearly disappeared since 2000. Third, median government antitrust fines average less than 10% of affected commerce, but rises to about 35% in the case of multi-continental conspiracies. Civil settlements in jurisdictions where they are permitted are typically 6 to 12% of sales. Canadian and U.S. fines and settlements imposed higher penalties than other jurisdictions. Fourth, fines on cartels that operated in Europe averaged a bit more than half of their estimated overcharges; those prosecuted only in North America paid civil and criminal sanctions of roughly single damages; and global cartels prosecuted in both jurisdictions typically paid less than single damages.

Keywords: cartel, international, antitrust, optimal deterrence, penalties, fines

JEL Classification: B14, F29, K22, L12, L41, L42, L44, L65, L11, L13, N60, K21, K14

Suggested Citation

Connor, John M. and Connor, John M., Effectiveness of Antitrust Sanctions on Modern International Cartels (December 1, 2006). Journal of Industry, Competition, and Trade 6 (2006): 195-223 , Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=988707 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.988707

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