Investigations that result in charges of antitrust violations are either initiated proactively by the Antitrust Division of the Department of Justice or are referred to the Division by other agencies investigating other crimes such as money laundering or tax evasion. When evidence of price fixing or bid rigging is uncovered by an ongoing criminal investigation, the Antitrust Division is brought in. Leads for investigations generally come to the Antitrust Division through one or more of the following sources:
- Government agents
- Amnesty applicants
- Proactive efforts by the Antitrust Division
The Antitrust Division employs the same covert methods of investigation as most other investigative agencies of the US government. Since the forbidden agreements are most often made in secret for fear of detection, often agents will record phone calls using phone taps. Another method commonly used is wire tapping, where they recruit a willing insider (often the result of a plea agreement) to wear a body microphone and record in-person conversations.
For example, suppose a construction company owner is suspected of paying state officials to maintain his favored status in winning highway construction jobs, as well as submitting fake invoices for asphalt that was never applied. The Public Integrity Division of the Department of Justice would likely begin the investigation, gathering evidence of the federal programs bribery. The Fraud Division would also be called in regarding the fake invoices. If an investigator began to see hints of a bid rigging scheme involved in the bidding process that allows officials to ensure the owner wins his paid-for bids, then most likely the Antitrust Division would be notified.
If you are the target of an investigation or the subject of an indictment, retaining a skilled advocate for your defense must be your number one priority. The attorneys at Parkman White, LLP offer years of trial experience and specialized expertise in the area of criminal antitrust litigation.