The President Authorizes the Antitrust Criminal Penalty Enhancement and Reform Permanent Extension Act

On June 25, 2020, the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate passed identical bills, H.R. 7036 and S. 3377, repealing the sunset provisions of the Antitrust Criminal Penalty Enhancement and Reform Act (“ACPERA”).[1] On October 1, 2020, the President signed into law a continuing resolution. The resolution contains the Antitrust Criminal Penalty Enhancement and Reform Permanent Extension Act, which reauthorizes ACPERA and repeals its sunset provision. [2]

ACPERA was enacted in 2004 to encourage antitrust violators to cooperate with government prosecutors and private litigants in antitrust cases. Under the Act, if an amnesty applicant into the Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division’s leniency program provides “satisfactory cooperation” to plaintiffs, the applicant’s Sherman Act (or similar state law) civil damages could be reduced to actual, as opposed to treble, damages. To those who do not cooperate, the Act increased the maximum criminal fine for corporations from $10 million to $100 million, increased the maximum prison sentence from 3 to 10 years, and increased the maximum fine for individuals from $350,000 to $1 million.

Assistant Attorney General Makan Delrahim of the Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division applauded the bipartisan action, stating that “[t]he division wholeheartedly agrees with Congress’s findings that ‘[c]onspiracies among competitors to fix prices, rig bids, and allocate markets are categorically and irredeemably anticompetitive and contravene the competition policy of the United States.’”[3]

[1] “Congress Reauthorizes the Antitrust Criminal Enhancement and Reform Act,” available at https://www.sgrlaw.com/congress-reauthorizes-the-antitrust-criminal-penalty-enhancement-and-reform-act-acpera/

[2] Press Release, Department of Justice Antitrust Division, “Department of Justice Applauds President Trump’s Authorization of the Antitrust Criminal Penalty Enhancement and Reform Permanent Extension Act,” (October 1, 2020), available at https://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/department-justice-applauds-president-trump-s-authorization-antitrust-criminal-penalty.

[3] Id.

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