Competition Law

In a recent press release by the European Commission it was announced that: ‘[t]he European Commission has fined 8 international financial institutions [a] total of €1.71 billion for participating in illegal cartels in markets for financial derivatives covering the European Economic Area (EEA). […] [The] decisions were adopted under the Commission’s cartel settlement procedure; the companies’ fines were reduced by 10% for agreeing to settle. […] UBS received full immunity for revealing the existence of the cartels and thereby avoided [a] fine of around €2.5 billion for its participation in five of the seven infringements. Citigroup received full immunity for one of the infringements in which it participated, thereby avoiding [a] fine of around 55 million euros.’ (Press release IP/13/1208 of December 2013).

Do you find it problematic that the total fine imposed on all cartel participants was only €1.7 billion approx., while the fine imposed on UBS would have been €2.5 billion, but was ‘avoided’? What are the advantages and disadvantages of leniency programmes and the settlement procedure?

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