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THE LATEST: DOJ’s Packaged Seafood Probe Yields Conditional Leniency Applicant

On Monday, September 11, Tri-Union Seafoods LLC, the US subsidiary of Thai Union Group, announced it blew the whistle on competitors in the US Department of Justice’s (DOJ) investigation of the packaged seafood industry. The “Chicken of the Sea” canned tuna manufacturer also said it received conditional leniency from DOJ in exchange for its cooperation. WHAT HAPPENED: In 2015, DOJ began investigating the packaged seafood industry for anticompetitive conduct, including price fixing. DOJ’s investigation followed a failed merger between Thai Union and Bumble Bee Foods LLC. In May 2017, Bumble Bee pleaded guilty to violations of Sherman Act Section One. Bumble Bee agreed to fix the price of shelf-stable tuna fish from as early as the first quarter of 2011 through at least the fourth quarter of 2013. The company agreed to pay a $25 million fine, which was substantially reduced to protect the company from insolvency. Two Bumble Bee executives also pleaded guilty....

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The Importance of an Effective Compliance Program

On September 9, 2014, Brent Snyder, Deputy Assistant Attorney General of the U.S. Department of Justice Antitrust Division, provided prepared remarks on the subject of “Compliance is a Culture, Not Just a Policy,” before the International Chamber of Commerce/United States Council of International Business Joint Antitrust Compliance Workshop in New York City.  Snyder explained that an effective corporate compliance program is an important part of a company’s effort to prevent antitrust violations. According to Snyder, compliance programs make good business and common sense.  He noted that compliance programs help prevent companies from committing crimes.  And, that even if a compliance program is not entirely successful, a partially successful compliance program may help a company qualify for leniency.  Snyder believes there is no one-size-fits-all compliance program. Instead, an effective compliance program should be designed to account for the markets a...

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European Commission Publishes New Brochure on Compliance with EU Competition Rules

by Philipp Werner and Martina Maier On November 23, 2011, the European Commission published a new brochure, “Compliance Matters – What Companies Can Do Better to Respect EU Competition Rules.”  Its stated purpose is to help companies that do business in the European Union "stay out of trouble" and to ensure their compliance with EU competition rules.  However, it does not cover the various practical and legal problems that companies face when developing and implementing compliance programs. The first part the brochure focuses on the general obligation to comply, as well as the benefits of compliance, such as the enhancement of a company’s reputation and attractiveness for promotional and recruitment purposes.  The second part describes the costs of non-compliance: fines for companies, sanctions on individuals, nullity of illegal agreements and the possibility for damage claims before national courts, and...

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European Developments: French Competition Authority Launches Public Consultation on Settlement and Compliance Programs and Italy’s Prime Minister Announces New Cabinet

Public Consultation on Settlement and Compliance Programs Launched by the French Competition Authority by Louise-Astrid Aberg and Lionel Lesur On October 14, the French Competition Authority (FCA) launched a two-month public consultation for guidelines on settlement and compliance programs.  Both these guidelines have been highly anticipated since they were first announced last May. The draft settlement guidelines contain details on the FCA's approach and decisional practices which were developed under the control of the French courts.  Among the guidelines, the FCA determined that settlement is possible in all cases where infringement on competition law has taken place, including cartels, vertical restraints and single firm conduct.  In the event of infringement, settlement becomes an option only after the parties have been formally charged.  Once parties fully acknowledge their participation in anticompetitive conduct, the casehandler in...

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