Investigations are increasingly crossing international borders. A coordinated approach is required between international competition and consumer agencies, and governments, to effectively combat transnational crime.
Australia is party to a number of international cooperation agreements such as treaties and memoranda of understanding. A new memorandum of understanding (MOU) recently came into effect which will allow competition agencies from five countries including Australia to share intelligence and best practices. This will facilitate stronger coordination of international investigations.
This MOU is called the Multilateral Mutual Assistance and Cooperation Framework for Competition Authorities (MMAC).
The Australian party to this arrangement, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), has communicated who the other international participants are and provides insight into the reasons for establishing the MMAC.
Who is participating in the MMAC?
The agencies participating in the MMAC are:
- US Department of Justice.
- US Federal Trade Commission.
- UK Competition and Markets Authority.
- New Zealand Commerce Commission.
- Competition Bureau Canada.
Why was the MMAC created?
This arrangement was created to improve cooperation and assistance between all the participants, facilitating investigative assistance including:
- Provision of mutual assistance.
- Sharing of confidential information.
- Executing searches and seizures.
- Cross-border evidence gathering.
ACCC Chair Rod Sims said that due to an increasingly interconnected global economy with many large companies operating internationally, “competition regulators have to work together to ensure the companies comply with competition and consumer laws”.
Mr. Sims added that anti-competitive conduct across digital platforms would be a key focus of this initiative, and that cooperation with experienced competition investigators in other countries would benefit existing and ongoing investigations.
“The new cooperation agreement complements our existing formal and informal cooperation agreements with competition agencies in the US, Canada and NZ. It will improve the effectiveness and efficiency of competition investigations that span multiple jurisdictions,” Mr Sims said.
Existing cooperation agreements involving these countries include:
- MOU between the ACCC, the Canadian Commissioner of Competition and the New Zealand Commerce Commission regarding the application of their competition and consumer laws.
- MOU between the ACCC and the US Federal Trade Commission to enhance cross-border cooperation in the consumer protection area.