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Methods for Setting Fines for Cartels in Russia and the Deterrence Effect as Compared to the United States and the European Union

Alexander Egorushkin, Mar 28, 2013

Over the last 10-20 years, the regulation of fines for antitrust violations has been amended several times in the United States and the European Union, significantly increasing the amount of imposed fines. Within the same time period, antitrust regulation and policy have spread across the globe and, as an enforcement tool, antitrust fines have also been introduced in many jurisdictions. Russia is not an exception; in 2006 the new Russian Competition Law was enacted and in 2007 turnover-based fines for antitrust violations were introduced.

Combating cartels is one of the main motivations for further developing antitrust policy, as collusion among competitors is one of the most egregious antitrust violations. Currently we are seeing antitrust authorities all over the world impose huge fines for cartels. In 2008, Saint Gobain was fined EUR 896 million by the European Commission for participation in a car glass cartel. The U.S. Department of Justice conducted a "vitamin investigation," which resulted in a $500 million fine imposed on F. Hoffmann-La Roche Ltd, a major participant in the vitamin cartel. The largest fine for a cartel agreement in Russia was imposed in 2011 on JSC United Trading Company, a leading chemicals trader, for participation in the caustic soda cartel in the amount of RUB 912,033,950 (approximately $30 million).

At first, the amount of these fines seems incredible and one can conclude that they are sufficient to deter any potential cartelists. However, the monetary size of a fine alone cannot be an objective indicator of whether or not such fine deters competitors from entering into cartel agreements and, therefore, is the optimal sanction for a cartel. The mechanisms for calculating fines and enforcement policy also play significant roles in the assessment of deterrence effect of fines.

This article focuses on analyzing the deterrence effect of the Russian fining system based on theoretical and practical approaches used in the United States and the European Union. The antitrust fines in the United States and the European Union, and comparison of their deterrence effect have been widely discussed, while there have been almost no studies on Russian anti-cartel fines and their deterrence effect.

 


[1] Cartel statistics published by the European Commission DG Competition: http://ec.europa.eu/competition/cartels/statistics/statistics.pdf

[2] This fine is the largest fine ever imposed in any Department of Justice proceeding under any statute so far: http://www.justice.gov/atr/public/4523e.htm

[3] Report of the Russian Federal Antimonopoly Service: http://fas.gov.ru/netcat_files/225/164/h_eb904a5e5e3beef9cf346d41ac4af934

[4] See, e.g., Robert D. Blair & Christine P. Durrance, Antitrust sanctions: deterrence and (possibly) overdeterrence, 53(3) the Antitrust Bulletin Vol. 53, No. 3/Fall, 643 [2008]; or Emmanuel Combe & Constance Monnier, Fines against hard core cartels in Europe: The myth of overenforcement, 56 the Antitrust Bulletin: (2011).

 

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