Prison firmly on the agenda for anti-competitive breaches
Shiu Lung Leung, former senior manager in the desktop display business at AU Optronics, has been sentenced to two years in prison and a US$50,000 fine by the US District Court for the Northern District of California.
This follows a US$500 million fine given to US Optronics (the highest fine thus imposed in the US, as reported here), and prison sentences of three years for two other former executives in September 2012, as detailed in our previous post here. It brings the total number of individual convictions for price fixing in the LCD industry to 13. In March this year, two lower-level executives at AU Optronics were acquitted.
Over on the east coast, the DOJ is seeking prison sentences of between 11 and 20 years in the US District Court for the Southern District of New York for three former UBS executives who were found to have defrauded municipal bond issuers and the federal government through rigged bids and kickbacks. Three former GE executives received prison terms of between 3 and 4 years for their role in the scheme, which they are currently appealing.
Between 2010 and 2012, an average of 23,398 prison days were sentenced each year for antitrust matters, with 25 months being the average sentence as reported by the Department of Justice. Criminal offences for breaches of the Competition and Consumer Act 2010 (Cth) were introduced in 2009, with sentences available of up to ten years imprisonment. However, no prosecutions have been filed as yet, with ACCC Chairman Rod Sims stating earlier this year that he would “not rush criminal investigations or be tempted to prosecute matters better suited to civil allegations”.