Melissa Meister Quoted by Law360 on DOJ’s Antitrust Leniency Overhaul

Melissa Meister, quoted by Law360 in an April 25, 2022 story about DOJ’s clarification of rules governing its antitrust leniency program, which is designed to encourage self-reporting about price fixing cartels, said DOJ is still employing “squish language,” that gives prosecutors discretion over whether a company has reported conduct and cooperated fully.

Meister said, “It still provides lawyers with a lot of opportunities to make arguments” against granting leniency. She said the changes in the rules could encourage small companies to report, but not so for large corporations. Meister noted new DOJ language that prohibits applicants from “taking positions in the civil litigation that contravene the corporate confession of wrongdoing.” She said this change could discourage large firms from coming forward as they weigh the potential damage to their stock price for admitting wrong-doing versus potential prosecution.

The purpose of DOJ’s leniency program is to encourage self-reporting by offering an escape from criminal charges and a reduction of penalties for the first company to report and fully cooperate with prosecutors about a price-fixing scheme.

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