AAI Working Paper No. 12-03: Private Recoveries in International Cartel Cases Worldwide – What do the Data Show?

In 2012, the global struggle to suppress price-fixing cartels reached a milestone. For the first time, U.S. monetary penalties exceeded $50 billion and worldwide antitrust penalties surpassed $100 billion.

This AAI working paper by AAI Senior Fellow John Connor describes trends in private recoveries and their role in deterring cartels. The main findings include:

  • Recoveries of cartel damages occur overwhelmingly in the United States.
  • Similar compensatory suits are growing rapidly abroad.
  • The largest U.S. settlements are for private international cartels.
  • The time needed to settle fell from more than ten years before 1990 to less than three years in the 2000s.
  • U.S. cartel recoveries are growing exponentially and will likelyreach $60 billion in 2017.
  • Every U.S. criminal cartel conviction is followed by a successfulprivate suit, but half of private actions do not follow upon U.S.convictions.
  • The average severity of cartel penalties is highest for Canadianfines (15% of affected sales for local to 17% for global conspiracies);moderate for U.S. and EU (4% to 13%) fines; and below 4% for private suits and other jurisdictions’ fines.
  • U.S. cartel fines average 40% of U.S. damages, and private settlements average 30%. Together, all U.S. monetary penalties average less than 100% of the illegal profits made by international cartels.

The edited version appears in CPI Antitrust Chronicle December 2012