The terms most lay people are familiar with in connection with antitrust violations are “bid rigging” and/or “price fixing.” Such anti-competitive activity takes many forms in a business context. Competitors may agree to submit complimentary bids in a bidding situation which are anti-competitive. One bidder agrees that he will not undercut another bidder or will simply make a lower bid in exchange for an after-the-fact kickback or some other type of inducement. In a price fixing case, competitors oftentimes agree what prices they will charge and agree not to charge a lesser amount. All such agreements are illegal under federal law because they are anti-competitive and hence violate federal anti-trust laws under the Sherman Act. See 15 U.S.C. § 1.
The Department of Justice in Washington D.C. has primary jurisdiction over antitrust investigations in the federal arena. There are many regional offices of the Antitrust Division which focus on antitrust investigations within their respective districts. However, recently the Department of Justice has decided to close certain field offices including Atlanta and thus, there is some restructuring underway within the Department of Justice. Nonetheless, when the anti-competitive activity is significant one can anticipate a federal review of such business practices.
Most antitrust investigations utilize an investigative federal grand jury. Our attorneys at Finch McCranie have considerable experience supervising grand jury investigations both as former prosecutors and as defense attorneys. A parallel investigation of a federal grand jury investigation oftentimes can reveal whether a company should attempt to resolve the case on a civil basis and/or should attempt to engage in proactive plea bargaining if the facts are such that a business has made an illegal business decision which would warrant a criminal prosecution.
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Our firm has been involved in a variety of antitrust cases over the years including alleged collusive bid rigging in the milk business, school contracts, construction contracts, the carpet industry, highway paving contracts, public auctions and other business contexts. In virtually most every case where the Antitrust Division of The Department of Justice has become involved, there has been some type of agreement between competitors to fix prices or rig bids for federal contracts. Where prosecutions are successful in this area, there can be significant financial penalties imposed and jail time is a possibility. If you or someone you know is being investigated for antitrust violations, please contact us for a free initial consultation. Our attorneys are experienced in handling antitrust violations and consistently achieve results for our clients.