Enforcement

Just over a year after launching the Procurement Collusion Strike Force (“PCSF”), the U.S. Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division (“DOJ”) announced new measures to further its pursuit of antitrust and related crimes in government procurement, grant, and program funding.  These changes expand the PCSF’s enforcement capacity and signal DOJ’s enduring—and intensifying—commitment to the PCSF’s mission.

The PCSF has added 11 new national partners: the Department of Homeland Security Office of the Inspector General, the Air Force Office of Special Investigations, and nine new U.S. Attorneys.  As a result, the growing PCSF coalition now includes 29 agencies and offices, including U.S. Attorneys in 22 federal judicial districts; the Federal Bureau of Investigation; and Offices of Inspectors General at six federal agencies.  The PCSF also named the Antitrust Division’s Daniel Glad as the Strike Force’s first permanent director, solidifying the PCSF’s institutional role at DOJ.  Glad previously served as an Assistant Chief at the Antitrust Division’s Chicago Office.
Continue Reading Expansion of the Procurement Collusion Strike Force

On December 10th, the Antitrust Division of the U.S. Department of Justice announced its first criminal indictment targeting an alleged conspiracy to reduce employee wages. The DOJ charged the former owner of a therapist staffing company with conspiring to reduce pay rates for healthcare worker contractors, but did not charge the company itself. Specifically, the indictment alleges that, for a six-month period in 2017, the defendant and his co-conspirators exchanged non-public information on rates paid to healthcare workers; discussed and agreed to decrease rates paid to healthcare workers; implemented rate decreases in accordance with their agreement; and paid healthcare workers at collusive and noncompetitive rates. The indictment alleges that the defendant’s behavior constitutes a per se violation of the antitrust laws and seeks penalties including fines and potential imprisonment. The indictment also includes an obstruction of justice charge, stemming from allegedly false or misleading information the defendant provided the Federal Trade Commission during the agency’s investigation of the same subject matter.
Continue Reading Antitrust Division Brings First Criminal Wage-Fixing Charge

We recently presented to DG COMP the findings of the immunity and leniency survey 2020, which was conducted jointly by Covington and the Brussels School of Competition. The survey ran from December 2019 to March 2020 and asked competition law practitioners, enforcers and in-house counsels to share their observations on the perceived decline in immunity

The European Commission (”Commission”) is preparing the ground for a new competition enforcement tool. This new tool could substantially extend the competition authority’s current enforcement powers and allow for far-reaching intervention where the Commission identifies structural competition concerns. In particular, following the proposal, the standard for intervention could be lowered significantly as the Commission may no longer be required to establish dominance in order to impose behavioural or structural remedies on a company.

Executive Vice-President Margrethe Vestager, in charge of competition policy, explained “that there are certain structural risks for competition, such as tipping markets, which are not addressed by the current rules.” She stated that the Commission “is seeking the views of stakeholders to explore the need for a possible new competition tool that would allow addressing such structural competition problems.
Continue Reading The New Normal? EU Commission Prepares a New Competition Enforcement Tool Aiming at Structural Competition Concerns

The Covington US and EU Competition/Antitrust teams will be updating you regularly, through the Covington Competition blog, on the competition/antitrust law implications – both procedural and substantive – of the COVID-19 crisis in the US and the EU.  This is our update for Friday 29 May 2020. Today’s new updates as compared to the previous update are highlighted – these are the headlines:

  • Today’s US update:
    • The FTC’s Director of the Bureau of Competition published a blog post on the failing firm defense. Skip to relevant section.
  • Today’s EU updates:

Continue Reading COVID 19 – US and EU Competition Law Implications (29 May 2020)

The Covington US and EU Competition/Antitrust teams will be updating you regularly, through the Covington Competition blog, on the competition/antitrust law implications – both procedural and substantive – of the COVID-19 crisis in the US and the EU.  This is our update for Tuesday 12 May 2020. Today’s new updates as compared to the previous update are highlighted – these are the headlines:

Continue Reading COVID 19 – US and EU Competition Law Implications (12 May 2020)

The Covington US and EU Competition/Antitrust teams will be updating you regularly, through the Covington Competition blog, on the competition/antitrust law implications – both procedural and substantive – of the COVID-19 crisis in the US and the EU.  This is our update for Wednesday 6 May 2020. Today’s new updates as compared to the previous update are highlighted – these are the headlines:

  • Today’s EU updates:

Continue Reading COVID 19 – US and EU Competition Law Implications (6 May 2020)

The Covington US and EU Competition/Antitrust teams will be updating you regularly, through the Covington Competition blog, on the competition/antitrust law implications – both procedural and substantive – of the COVID-19 crisis in the US and the EU.  This is our update for Thursday 30 April 2020. Today’s new updates as compared to the previous update are highlighted – these are the headlines:

  • Today’s EU updates:
    • The Court has announced that it intends to resume hearings on 25 May 2020.
    • The Commission has cleared a further number of State aid requests by Member States.  Skip to relevant section.

Continue Reading COVID 19 – US and EU Competition Law Implications (30 April 2020)

The Covington US and EU Competition/Antitrust teams will be updating you regularly, through the Covington Competition blog, on the competition/antitrust law implications – both procedural and substantive – of the COVID-19 crisis in the US and the EU.  This is our update for Friday 24 April. Today’s new updates as compared to the previous update are highlighted – these are the headlines:

  • Today’s EU updates:
    • The German government intends to prolong merger procedure time periods, extending phase I investigations to two months and in-depth phase II investigations to six months. The new law will apply to all mergers notified between 1 March 2020 and 31 May 2020. The underlying reason is the significant impact of COVID-19 on the Federal Cartel Office’s daily operations. Due to contact bans and the temporary closure of businesses, merger control investigations may not be concluded within the usual time periods, which might result in a clearance of concentrations which may significantly impede effective competition. The proposed changes aim to allow the authority to further investigate the markets concerned. Skip to relevant section.
    • The Commission has cleared a further number of State aid requests by Member States.  Skip to relevant section.

Continue Reading COVID 19 – US and EU Competition Law Implications (24 April 2020)

The Covington US and EU Competition/Antitrust teams will be updating you regularly, through the Covington Competition blog, on the competition/antitrust law implications – both procedural and substantive – of the COVID-19 crisis in the US and the EU.  This is our update for Thursday 16 April. Today’s new updates as compared to the previous update are highlighted – these are the headlines:

  • Today’s US updates:
    • The FTC has temporarily halted proceedings in three administrative antitrust merger challenges — Axon, Juul, and Arch Coal — until June, due to the public health emergency associated with COVID-19. Skip to relevant section.
  • Today’s EU updates:
  • Continue Reading COVID 19 – US and EU Competition Law Implications (16 April 2020)