The Swiss touch
The financial press on both sides of the Atlantic is reporting that the DOJ has offered several UBS employees immunity from prosecution in return for their investigation into whether banks colluded to manipulate certain inter-bank interest rates, including the London Inter-Bank Offered Rate (LIBOR). Details are scarce, but no one can doubt the value of immunity.
The LIBOR investigation reminds us of another cartel investigation that has been back in the spotlights of late, in which a Swiss participant also received immunity – the alleged air cargo cartel. In early August 2012, a federal judge in the Eastern District of New York approved an agreement that settled claims against nine airlines named in a 2006 civil suit alleging that dozens of airlines conspired to fix shipping rates for air cargo. That class action followed on from regulatory investigations in which both the EC and DOJ granted full immunity from fines to Lufthansa and its subsidiary Swiss Back – as EC Commissioner Joaquin Alumina announced in November 2010.
In Australia, the ACCC’s prosecution of the air cargo cartel continues against a number of defending airlines, with a hearing on liability due to commence before Justice Perram in the Federal Court on 22 October 2012 in Sydney. The ACCC’s proceedings against Garuda, which were stayed until last week pending the determination of Garuda’s appeal on the applicability of foreign state immunity (read more at our recent post), will continue separately.