ACCC immunity and cooperation policy for cartel conduct
ACCC, 10 September 2014
On 10 September 2014 the ACCC published its updated Immunity and Cooperation Policy for Cartel Conduct which replace the ACCC Immunity Policy for Cartel Conduct July 2009 and ACCC Immunity Policy Interpretation Guidelines July 2009.
The rationale for the policy is set out in its preface:
International experience and the experience of the ACCC has demonstrated that effective immunity and cooperation policies encourage businesses and individuals to disclose cartel behaviour and this in turn assists the ACCC to stop the harm arising from this illegal conduct and to take action against participants.
Cartels usually involve secrecy and deception. Collusion is difficult to detect - there may be little documentary evidence and parties often go to great lengths to keep their involvement secret. In these circumstances, discovery and proof of the existence of cartels can be more difficult than discovery and proof of other forms of corporate misconduct. An immunity and cooperation policy in relation to cartels encourages insiders to provide information and enables the ACCC to penetrate the cloak of secrecy. When the extent of the immunity to be provided, or the process for recognising cooperation with law enforcement authorities is certain, persons are more likely to take advantage of such a policy and disclose illegal and harmful conduct.
Just as importantly, an immunity and cooperation policy that provides incentives to businesses and individuals to disclose illegal behaviour is also a powerful disincentive to the formation of cartels, as potential participants will perceive a greater risk of ACCC detection and court proceedings. An immunity and cooperation policy does not offer a reward to ‘good corporate citizens’. It is a detection tool designed to deliver benefits to all Australians by identifying, stopping and taking action against harmful and illegal behaviour
For details of this policy and the ACCC's cooperation policy see the cooperation and immunity policy page.
Movie promoting immunity policy: 'The Marker'
In late August 2012 the ACCC released its cartel video, THE MARKER. This relates to the previous policy.
The ACCC has published a Frequently Asked Questions guide intended to assist in interpreting this policy.