Cartel and Criminal Antitrust Investigations

We assist all kinds of parties in investigations covering a wide range of allegations such as procurement fraud, foreign corrupt practices, bribery, money laundering, export controls violations, etc.

Antitrust Dawn Raids

Antitrust dawn raids are unannounced inspections of offices or residences by competition or other regulatory authorities to look for evidence of antitrust violations. Typically, dawn raids result in the seizure of documents, equipment, records, and data, and they may involve the questioning of personnel or individuals regarding the alleged infringement. Raids can span from a few hours to more than a week depending on the nature of the allegations, scope of investigation, and site. Dawn raids have become a popular tool for competition authorities around the globe. Although differences in methodology exist, agency officials generally have extensive powers to conduct raids. Often, officials are free to make copies of documents and data, and are also permitted to extend their search beyond the physical premises and investigate companies’ information technology networks – including hard drives and cloud data storage. 

In a speech on October 22, 2021, EU competition commissioner Margaret Vestager announced: “Now, as the pandemic starts to recede, our work on collecting evidence is gathering pace. Last week, we carried out our first international dawn raid in two years, when we inspected companies in several EU countries, on suspicion of a cartel in the wood pulp industry. And that’s just the start of a series of raids that we’re planning for the months to come – you’ll understand if I don’t say exactly when or where they’re going to happen“. On October 25, 2021, EU antitrust regulators raided  an animal health pharmaceutical company in Belgium on concerns that the company may have abused its dominant position, and on November 23, 2021 the European Union competition authorities raided a company in the defense sector, looking for potential evidence of unlawful cartel activity. Companies operating in the EU and elsewhere should take heed that, after a pandemic-related slowdown, dawn raids are back.

Dawn Raid Preparation and Response Checklist

For companies operating in the United States, Winston & Strawn’s Dawn Raid Preparation and Response Checklist outlines a protocol companies should have in place and implement in the event of a dawn raid in connection with a federal antitrust investigation. (this Checklist from Lexis Practice Advisor®, a comprehensive practical guidance resource providing insight from leading practitioners, was reproduced by Winston with the permission of LexisNexis®).

Contact us for more information.

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