How do Australia and the US combat cartels?

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) is responsible for helping to prevent anti-competitive conduct. This work involves detecting and deterring domestic and international cartels operating in Australia or affecting Australians.

In light of the complex and often transnational nature of cartel-related crime, a Memorandum of Cooperation (MOC) has been established between the ACCC and the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), which will strengthen the agencies’ joint efforts in combating cartels and other anti-competitive behaviour.

 

What will the MOC achieve?

On its website, the ACCC highlights how the MOC will allow for the exchange of expertise and staff between the two agencies to enhance work in the detection, investigation and prosecution of criminal competition offences.

“There are significant benefits for ACCC staff and the agency more broadly in learning about the techniques and approaches of the FBI in cartel and other competition law investigations. The future co-operation between the FBI and the ACCC to detect and deal with criminal cartel conduct will be very important to us”, said ACCC Chair Mr Rod Sims at the signing of the agreement in Washington, D.C on 15 April, 2019.

“The FBI is proud of its relationship with the ACCC, and this Memorandum of Cooperation codifies that relationship and provides opportunity for increased information- and resource-sharing as we work toward a common goal in preventing anti-competitive behaviour,” said Section Chief J.J. Jimenez of the FBI’s Criminal Investigative Division.

 

Prior inter-agency cooperation developments

The relationship between the ACCC and the FBI has evolved over the past few years, including a visit by FBI representatives to Australia to discuss investigative techniques and information exchange.

With the increasingly cross-border nature of crime, cooperation between international law enforcement and regulatory agencies is becoming more important than ever in ensuring effective deterrence, detection, investigations and prosecutions.

An intergovernmental agreement exists between Australia and the United States, which allows for in-depth cooperation between the ACCC and various competition law enforcement bodies in the US.

The MOC represents the next step in strengthening this relationship, not only with the FBI but also with other US law enforcement agencies.

Cooperation between domestic law enforcement agencies is also critical in effectively combating cartel conduct, and this was reflected in the signing of an MOC between the ACCC and CDPP on 15 August 2014 regarding serious cartel conduct, with the CDPP being responsible for prosecuting offences against Commonwealth law.

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