Will We See More Criminal Charges Against Monopolies?

DOJ Official’s Remarks Seen as ‘Signal’ Government Will Use Criminal Charges to Fight Illegal Monopolies

Remarks made by the DOJ’s Richard Powers at a March 2 American Bar Association conference on white collar crime has law firm blogs buzzing. His few words are being widely reported as “breaking news” that the government is clearly “signaling” or even “revealing” its intentions to pursue companies and their executives for criminal violations of Section 2 of the Sherman Act. Powers, who is the DOJ Antitrust Division Deputy Assistant Attorney General, answered in the affirmative when asked if his office was prepared to bring criminal charges in monopoly cases. While saying he wasn’t making an announcement, his answer is widely being interpreted as a warning to companies that four decades of facing primarily civil litigation – unless they are engaged in more obviously brazen schemes such as price fixing and bid-rigging – may be at an end. Time will tell. Powers reportedly reminded his audience that “Congress made violations of the Sherman Act, both Section 1 and Section 2, a crime.” He added that market concentration and consolidation “is not only a civil antitrust issue.”

Sign up to view this Whitepaper