Answer ... The DOJ aggressively enforces criminal antitrust law and typically initiates several major investigations each year. From FY 2012 to FY 2015, the DOJ collected criminal fines exceeding $1 billion each year, including $3.6 billion in FY 2015.
Since then, criminal antitrust fines have been in a steep decline, dropping to $399 million in FY 2016 and $67 million in FY 2017 - a 10-year low.
Significant recent investigations include the following.
Automobile parts: The DOJ’s investigation of manufacturers of various automotive components has been the largest cartel investigation in terms of the number of corporate prosecutions. Altogether, the investigation has resulted in dozens of convictions of corporations and individuals, with total fines exceeding $2.9 billion. The investigation started in 2011 and the last reported enforcement occurred in early 2018, when Maruyasu Industries Co. Ltd. pleaded guilty to price fixing of automotive steel tubes and agreed to pay a fine of $12 million.
Foreign exchange currency markets: The DOJ has actively investigated and prosecuted alleged cartel conduct in financial and technology markets. One example is the DOJ’s investigation of an alleged conspiracy to manipulate the prices of US dollars and euros exchanged on foreign exchange spot markets. The investigation resulted in guilty pleas by a number of large financial institutions including Citicorp, Barclays, JPMorgan and The Royal Bank of Scotland, which paid fines of $925 million, $650 million, $550 million and $395 million, respectively.
Bid rigging in real estate foreclosure auctions: The DOJ has prosecuted bid rigging in real estate public foreclosure auctions. To date, there have been indictments and guilty pleas across multiple states, including Northern California, Mississippi, Florida and Georgia.
Packaged seafood: The DOJ uncovered evidence of price fixing while investigating a proposed merger between Bumble Bee and Chicken of the Sea. The merger review led to a criminal cartel investigation that has since resulted in a plea agreement with Bumble Bee, which agreed to pay a $25 million fine, and plea resolutions with five executives. StarKist, a third conspirator implicated in the investigation, agreed to plead guilty, but has not been sentenced as of the time of writing. Bumble Bee’s chief executive has refused to enter a plea deal and is awaiting trial as of the time of writing.
No-poach cases: In October 2016 the DOJ issued guidance that it will prosecute naked agreements between competitors not to hire each other’s employees as criminal violations of the antitrust laws. The DOJ has stated that it is investigating multiple alleged no-poach agreements, although no criminal charges have been filed to date.