Investigations Practice Background 2

Antitrust Investigations


Antitrust enforcement has exploded in recent years, with the U.S. Department of Justice obtaining record-setting fines and prison terms for criminal antitrust violations implicating companies whose products and services are household names. At the same time, the DOJ, Federal Trade Commission, and state attorneys general have also pursued high-profile civil conduct investigations of major corporations in a number of industries including telecommunications and technology. In this high-risk environment, corporations must be more careful than ever in their dealings with competitors - and the importance of retaining experienced, effective legal counsel has never been higher.

Crowell & Moring routinely represents companies, executives, and employees in both criminal and civil antitrust investigations before the DOJ and FTC. We have defended companies and their employees against government allegations of criminal price fixing, bid rigging, market allocation, customer allocation, and related issues of fraud and corruption, as well as navigated the waters of grand jury investigations, amnesty applications, plea negotiations, and extradition proceedings. On the civil side, we have defended companies in investigations that run the gamut of antitrust issues, from collusion to monopolization. We also routinely advise clients on creating effective antitrust compliance programs and conducting comprehensive antitrust trainings.


Crowell & Moring’s Antitrust Investigations team has wide-ranging experience with criminal and civil antitrust investigations on both sides of the aisle. Our lawyers include former DOJ Antitrust Division prosecutors, former FTC attorneys, former DOJ Fraud prosecutors, and former prosecutors from U.S. attorney’s offices. This first-hand experience gives us a unique insight into the inner workings of the U. S. federal and state agencies and their counterparts internationally, allowing us to craft truly strategic, global defenses.


Criminal Antitrust Investigations. Crowell & Moring’s antitrust investigations attorneys have the experience to counsel clients through all phases of criminal antitrust proceedings. We have been instrumental in obtaining either declinations of prosecution or otherwise favorable resolution in light of the facts. And, because U.S. criminal antitrust investigations often involve global cartels, our representations extend to dealing with competition authorities in other jurisdictions, including those in Canada, Europe, and Asia.

Civil and Internal Investigations. Our civil antitrust investigation experience covers a multitude of industries and investigations by the DOJ, FTC, state attorneys general, and European and Asian competition authorities, as well as proactive internal investigations. In addition to handling specific investigations in response to enforcement agencies’ inquiries, we routinely conduct internal investigations covering the full range of antitrust issues in order to identify potential risks and recommend risk-reduction measures, as well as antitrust compliance program design and training.

Representative Engagements

  • Representing a major multinational corporation in an auto parts price-fixing cartel investigation. In this case, the DOJ’s largest-ever criminal antitrust investigation, we successfully negotiated a closure of the investigation with no penalties despite the presence of an amnesty applicant.
  • Negotiating a leniency petition in a global cartel investigation. Despite evidence of obstruction of justice by one of our corporate client's senior executives and his subordinate, we successfully resolved the matter.
  • Negotiating a favorable plea resolution in a major global price-fixing investigation. We persuaded the DOJ that certain conduct constituted a separate conspiracy and was therefore beyond the statute of limitations.
  • Negotiating an amnesty agreement with the DOJ. We helped the client company and its employees avoid any criminal charges associated with a price-fixing conspiracy that resulted in indictments and convictions of other participants.
  • Persuading senior DOJ officials to overrule a staff recommendation to indict. We were able to prevent action against our corporate client for price fixing despite evidence from a competitor with amnesty.
  • Representing individual defendants in high-profile cartel investigations. We have successfully advised a number of individuals targeted in investigations involving auto parts, financial products, generic pharmaceuticals, and others products and services: for many of these clients we were able to secure carve-out status.
  • Representing a major telecommunications company in a DOJ civil investigation. We are defending our client against allegations of collusive conduct with competitors.
  • Representing clients in investigations before the FTC and/or state attorneys general. In numerous matters involving animal health products, musical instruments, printing supplies, and aerospace products, among others, we have successfully convinced the agency to close the investigations without action.
  • Conducting internal investigations in the United States and in Europe in sectors ranging from oilfield services to building products to transportation.
  • Developing an audit of a client’s trade association memberships and the level of antitrust compliance and sophistication. Following our audit, our client determined that it should eliminate nearly half of its association memberships and made requests of other associations that they enhance their antitrust compliance.