Criminal Law

Antitrust Offenses

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§2R1.1GUIDELINES MANUALNovember 1, 2005

goods or services that were affected by the violation, or (B) the largest contract on which the organization submitted a complementary bid in connection with the bid-rigging conspiracy.


Statutory Provisions: 15 U.S.C. §§ 1, 3(b). For additional statutory provision(s), see Appendix A (Statutory Index).

Application Notes:

1. Application of Chapter Three (Adjustments).—Sections 3B1.1 (Aggravating Role), 3B1.2 (Mitigating Role), 3B1.3 (Abuse of Position of Trust or Use of Special Skill), and 3C1.1 (Obstructing or Impeding the Administration of Justice) may be relevant in determining the seriousness of the defendant’s offense. For example, if a sales manager organizes or leads the price-fixing activity of five or more participants, the 4-level increase at §3B1.1(a) should be applied to reflect the defendant’s aggravated role in the offense. For purposes of applying §3B1.2, an individual defendant should be considered for a mitigating role adjustment only if he were responsible in some minor way for his firm’s participation in the conspiracy.

2. Considerations in Setting Fine for Individuals.—In setting the fine for individuals, the court should consider the extent of the defendant’s participation in the offense, the defendant’s role, and the degree to which the defendant personally profited from the offense (including salary, bonuses, and career enhancement). If the court concludes that the defendant lacks the ability to pay the guideline fine, it should impose community service in lieu of a portion of the fine. The community service should be equally as burdensome as a fine.

3. The fine for an organization is determined by applying Chapter Eight (Sentencing of Organizations). In selecting a fine for an organization within the guideline fine range, the court should consider both the gain to the organization from the offense and the loss caused by the organization. It is estimated that the average gain from price-fixing is 10 percent of the selling price. The loss from price-fixing exceeds the gain because, among other things, injury is inflicted upon consumers who are unable or for other reasons do not buy the product at the higher prices. Because the loss from price-fixing exceeds the gain, subsection (d)(1) provides that 20 percent of the volume of affected commerce is to be used in lieu of the pecuniary loss under §8C2.4(a)(3). The purpose for specifying a percent of the volume of commerce is to avoid the time and expense that would be required for the court to determine the actual gain or loss. In cases in which the actual monopoly overcharge appears to be either substantially more or substantially less than 10 percent, this factor should be considered in setting the fine within the guideline fine range.

4. Another consideration in setting the fine is that the average level of mark-up due to price-fixing may tend to decline with the volume of commerce involved.

5. It is the intent of the Commission that alternatives such as community confinement not be used to avoid imprisonment of antitrust offenders.

6. Understatement of seriousness is especially likely in cases involving complementary bids. If, for example, the defendant participated in an agreement not to submit a bid, or to submit an

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