Criminal cartels

Author:Ana Maria Iulia Santa
Position:Faculty of Law, University of Vienna, Austria
Criminal cartels
Student Ana-Maria Iulia ŞANTA
Cartels are nowadays a global issue, affecting consumers from all over the world.
As the consequences of anticompetitive agreements have an impact at extraterritorial level,
with implications beyond th e market where the cartel operates, cartel investig ations have a
global dimension. Cartel members, which are global players, should be aware of th is
aspect, as in some jurisdictions, for example in the United S tates of America, cartel
agreements are a criminal offence, as they harm the consumer. The present paper will
analyze the approach to cartels in the United States of America and in the European Union,
it will deal with the research question if cartels are seen as criminal in several jurisdictions
and it will point out aspects of international cooperation in fighting aga inst cartels, in
order to ensure consumer protection. The research questions will be illustrated by case-law
and case-studies that will serve as examples. The present paper will use an
interdisciplinary comparative research approach, with focus on an international
perspective related to cartel enforcement at a global level.
Keywords: cartel, cartel enforcement, criminal cartels, consumer protection , global cartel
JEL Classification: K21, K22, K33, K14
1. Introduction
Cartels are nowadays a global issue in our business environment, where the
main actors are multinational companies. Multinational companies concentrate a
huge amount of power and of influence on the market. They build a typical
oligopolistic structure, where few market participants hold significant market
. Given this structure of the market, the tendency of the global players on
the market is to collude, to agree upon prices, terms and conditions or markets and
thus to avoid real competition. Given this international context, the research topic
of the present paper is to find out if cartels are seen as a criminal offence in several
jurisdictions around the world, mainly in the United States of America and within
the European Union and to compare these approaches related to cartel agreements.
The new perspective compared to the existing literature is given by the
new and dynamic development of competition law in the European Union, by the
Ana-Maria Iulia Şanta - Faculty of Law, University of Vienna, Austria, anamaria_iulia_santa@
See O’Kane, Michael: The Law of Criminal Cartels, Oxford University P ress Inc., New York, 2009,
p. 2; Bishop, S imon and Walker, Mike: The Economics of EC Competition Law: Concepts,
Application and Measurement, Sweet & Maxwell, London, 2010, p. 14.

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