US: DOJ sets up anti-price collusion ‘strike force’

The Justice Department said on Tuesday (November 5) it had created a strike force that will identify and prosecute companies that fix prices or collude to push up the cost of billions of dollars’ worth of US government purchases.

The announcement follows the discovery that five South Korean companies had colluded in delivering oil to US military bases.

The Procurement Collusion Strike Force will be made up of the department’s Antitrust Division, 13 US attorneys’ offices, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the offices of inspectors general from the Defense Department, the Justice Department, General Services Administration and US Postal Service.

Its creation is a follow-up to the Justice Department’s announcement last year that it would be more aggressive in pressing antitrust charges against companies that rig bids for government contracts.

The strike force will use data – such as selective bidding that suggests companies are splitting a market – to seek out and prosecute government contractors who collude, according to the department.

Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey A. Rosen expressed the Department’s support for the initiative. “To protect taxpayer dollars, the Justice Department is doing its part to eliminate anticompetitive collusion, waste and abuse from government procurement,” said Deputy Attorney General Rosen. “To ensure taxpayers the full benefits of competitive bidding, experienced investigators and prosecutors with the necessary expertise will partner in this Strike Force to deter, detect and prosecute antitrust crimes and related schemes in government procurements.”

“The investigation and prosecution of individuals and organizations that cheat, collude and seek to undermine the integrity of government procurement are priorities for this administration,” said Assistant Attorney General Delrahim. “The PCSF will train and educate procurement officials nationwide to recognize and report suspicious conduct in procurement, grant and program funding processes. We will aggressively investigate and prosecute those who violate our antitrust laws to cheat the American taxpayer.”

Full Content: DOJ

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