A price fixing scheme is a white collar crime that involves colluding with competitors to decide what prices will be. Antitrust laws require companies to establish prices and other competitive terms without consulting with competitors. You are allowed to conduct market research to see what other people are charging for similar products, but you are not allowed to make agreements as this undermines competitive corrections in the market and usually results in harm to consumers through higher prices.
Price fixing also involves agreements about wages they’ll pay. Again, you are allowed to research what other companies are paying for similar positions so you may offer competitive salaries, but you are not allowed to agree on a salary range with other employers.
Penalties include up to $1 million in fines for individuals and up to $100 million for companies, or twice the gain or loss from the offense. Offenders may also spend up to ten years in prison. Price fixers may also be liable for civil enforcement actions.
Price fixing is of particular concern right now. For example, economists and lawmakers are warning that many companies are using their monopoly power to price fix through earnings calls. There is a widespread belief that price fixing, not inflation, is behind the recent rash of high prices.
Recently, the “Big Four” meat and poultry processors—Tyson, JBS USA, Cargill, and National Beef—were the subject of price fixing lawsuits. While the action against them seems to largely be civil, there is always the chance that the government will bring a criminal case against them as well.
There is also a criminal case in Maine right now, wherein four business managers of home healthcare agencies conspired to restrict workers’ pay and job mobility. In this specific case, it appears that the government has text message evidence to back up their allegation that a conspiracy existed.
Even small companies can find themselves on the wrong end of a criminal investigation involving the practice of price fixing.
Price fixing and antitrust schemes are some of the most complex areas of white-collar law. You need an experienced criminal defense attorney to help you navigate these charges.
We can help you undermine the Department of Justice’s case that you have engaged in any kind of conspiracy.
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