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DOJ antitrust division collects record-breaking fines in 2012

The $1.35 billion total came from 14 companies, most of which are based in the Asia-Pacific region

The Department of Justice (DOJ) certainly wasn’t shy about punishing companies that were naughty this year. On the heels of the agency’s announcement that it issued a record $5 billion in False Claims Act penalties in the 2012 fiscal year comes the news that its antitrust division also collected a record $1.35 billion in criminal fines during the same period, according to an analysis from Allen & Overy Partner John Terzaken.

Terzaken, who previously was the antitrust division’s director of criminal enforcement, notes that just 14 corporations were responsible for the hefty penalties. Leading the pack was electronics manufacturer AU Optronics, which was hit with a $500 million fine for fixing prices on liquid crystal display panels. Close behind was Yazaki Corp., a Japan-based automotive parts supplier that paid $470 million for price-fixing in the auto parts market. 

Asia-Pacific-based companies bore the brunt of the DOJ’s enforcement efforts, paying 58 percent of fines. Only 17 percent of fines came courtesy of companies based in the Americas, which Terzaken attributes to “a continued focus of the Antitrust Divison’s investigations on conduct by foreign-based corporations.”

But, if Terzaken’s predications are right, this record-breaking year might be just the beginning for the division. “The carnage from this year's enforcement effort may pale in comparison to what is to come in 2013, as the Antitrust Division's wide-ranging auto parts and LIBOR investigations are just now starting to pick up steam," he said in a statement.

Read more at Thomson Reuters.

For more InsideCounsel coverage of antitrust cases, see:

Regulators sue NY tour buses for alleged monopoly

Retailers appeal $7.2 billion Visa/Mastercard settlement

Most-favored-nation clauses attract antitrust scrutiny

FTC staff reportedly recommends antitrust lawsuit against Google

Senators proposed antitrust whistleblower protections

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