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Office of Fair Trading chief John Fingleton yesterday set out a number of interesting points in a speech he gave at the European Competition Policy forum. Specifically he discussed:
1. how greater attempts needed to be made to uncover cartels earlier on in their life-cycle. He believed that there needed to be adequate incentives on companies to come clean;
2. the need for more own-initiative investigations;
3. that regulators rely heavily on leniency programmes to uncover cartels;
4. that relying primarily on fines for companies will not help regulators prevent more cartels; and
5. that a company’s primary concern in cartel investigations is actually reputational damage.
In taking the own-initiative investigations point a little further, it looks like the OFT may be gearing up to devote greater resources to cartel investigations where there is not an initial immunity/leniency applicant. Such pro-activity may lead to more dawn raids, information requests and interaction with companies in a wide range of OFT-targetted sectors.
For further insight into the policy objectives and key priorities for the OFT, see John Cassels recent article which can be accessed here.