Criminal Antitrust

Criminal or quasi-criminal enforcement of competition laws is becoming the norm across the globe, with a particular focus on sweeping, large-scale cartel investigations. Crowell & Moring has the experience to guide clients through all phases of criminal antitrust proceedings, from grand jury investigations to amnesty applications, extradition proceedings, and government litigation.

Our team includes several former Department of Justice (DOJ) prosecutors, whose first-hand experience and deep understanding of the government's strategic imperatives enable them to evaluate all options and provide a rigorous, effective defense. We have represented companies and key employees in the full range of criminal antitrust matters, including government allegations of price fixing, bid rigging, market allocation, customer allocation, and related issues of fraud and corruption. Because U.S. criminal proceedings often involve global cartels, we also deal regularly with competition authorities in Canada, and countries in Europe, Asia, and elsewhere.

We regularly represent clients involved in parallel civil litigation. For example, after a recent U.S. government investigation into Section 1 violations, we won summary judgment in a class action seeking $4 billion in damages relating to the same alleged conduct. The dismissal was affirmed by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

We represent clients operating in a broad range of industries. Recent matters have involved companies whose products and services include agriculture, industrial products, building products, commercial explosives, transportation, telecommunications, and oil field services. We have a strong record of convincing the U.S. Department of Justice and various state attorneys general offices to close criminal investigations of our clients.

Representative Engagements

  • Representing a multinational corporation and several executives in connection with the various automotive parts grand jury investigation
  • Negotiating a leniency petition for a corporate client in a global cartel investigation, which continued despite evidence of obstruction of justice by one of our corporate client's senior executives and his subordinate
  • Negotiating a favorable plea resolution in a major, global price-fixing investigation by persuading the DOJ staff that certain conduct constituted a separate conspiracy and was therefore beyond the statute of limitations
  • Negotiating an amnesty agreement with the DOJ whereby the client company and its employees avoided any criminal charges associated with a price-fixing conspiracy that resulted in indictments and convictions of other participants
  • Persuading senior Justice Department officials to overrule the staff recommendation to indict our corporate client for price-fixing, despite evidence provided from a competitor with amnesty
  • Defending an individual in obtaining a judgment of acquittal at the close of the government's case in a criminal bid-rigging trial