U.S. House of Representatives Extends Antitrust Penalty Leniency Program for Cooperating Defendants
On June 25, 2020, the House passed a bill to permanently extend a recently expired provision within the Antitrust Criminal Penalty Enhancement and Reform Act (ACPERA). The critical provision “detrebles” antitrust damages in private suits against companies that qualify for and receive leniency from the U.S. Department of Justice in criminal investigations.
The bill’s sponsor, Representative Joe Neguse, D-Colo., said in a statement, “[a] reauthorization of ACPERA will ensure that the Antitrust Division has the tools it needs to continue to uncover and prosecute criminal cartel activity, as well as protect consumers against price-fixing cartels.” According to an April 2019 press release, Assistant Attorney General Makan Delrahim called the Antitrust Division’s leniency policy “critical to the success of our criminal enforcement program.”
While the bill enjoys partisan support and endorsement across government branches, some commentators contend that the program could be more effective. For example, they argue that neither the language of the original law nor the rough-hewn June 2020 amendment provide sufficient clarity on defendant qualification criteria.