Competition regulators maintain vigilance on combating cartels and facilitating a healthy global business environment

By Russell Miller and Paul Schoff

Regulators around the world remain focused on the impact of cartels on business, and the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) is no exception. In 2013, the ACCC received 27 approaches in relation to cartels, resulting in 13 in-depth investigations. International co-operation in this area is increasing, due significantly to the work of the International Competition Network, the global organisation of competition regulators.

It is essential that companies remain vigilant about competition compliance. Some recent cases, both in Australia and overseas, illustrate the importance of combating cartels and the role of effective immunity policies in helping to sustain a competitive business environment.

In May, the ACCC successfully concluded non-criminal action against Japanese company NSK Australia Pty Ltd in relation to a cartel to fix the price of automotive and industrial bearings, where senior company executives based in Australia had met regularly, normally over dinner, to discuss pricing plans with executives of two other bearings companies. In announcing the decision, the ACCC made the point that the cartel had been brought to the ACCC’s attention as a result of the US Department of Justice’s investigation into auto-parts cartels…

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