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Major international price-fixing prosecutions and an unprecedented level of cooperation among prosecutors globally has resulted multi-hundred-million-dollar fines and jail sentences, signaling a sharp increase in criminal antitrust enforcement and resulting civil cases. The effective defense of criminal antitrust matters—and parallel private civil litigation—is a particular Sheppard Mullin strength. We have traditionally had one of the most respected and successful antitrust and competition cartel practices globally, with more than 40 years of experience defending companies and executives in international cartel investigations and litigation in the U.S., Europe and Asia.

Companies and corporate executive facing criminal and civil government antitrust cartel investigations and litigation turn to our specialized cartel and criminal antitrust team for pragmatic advice and experienced representation. We counsel parties and third parties in U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) Antitrust Division or Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and State Attorneys General investigations of alleged anticompetitive conduct. Corporate and individual clients trust us to guide them through sensitive criminal cartel investigations of price-fixing, bid-rigging, customer allocation, no-poach/non-solicit agreements within the U.S. and around the world. Our team has cutting-edge experience representing several of the first companies and individuals facing criminal antitrust no-poach and wage-fixing investigations and prosecutions by DOJ Antitrust Division and ensuing civil litigation.

We provide rapid response when government agents arrive unannounced for a dawn raid, seeking to search and seize documents, electronic data, and other potentially vital corporate information or show up and attempt to conduct interviews at business locations or employee homes. We deliver strategic advice regarding responding to subpoenas, civil investigative demands (CIDs), and other government compulsory processes.

Our global team includes former senior prosecutors from the DOJ’s Antitrust Division, the Federal Trade Commission, European Commission’s DG Comp Division and U.S. Attorneys’ offices and seasoned practitioners—all of whom have significant criminal and civil investigation and litigation experience. We understand how government agencies work and how best to interact with government attorneys at all levels to leverage good results for clients. Our deep experience as former federal prosecutors and antitrust litigators allows us to assess antitrust risk and formulate effective and efficient response strategies in bet-the-company situations.

As a cartel investigation proceeds, we continually assess exposure and strategy. If cooperation is the best option, we have the experience to successfully navigate companies and individuals through the Antitrust Division Leniency process or maximize cooperation and obtain a reduced sentence through a deferred prosecution or plea agreement. When necessary, we are ready to guide companies and individuals through trial and sentencing.

Our recent experience includes representing aerospace industry outsource engineering supplier Cyient Inc. in labor-focused investigation and litigation brought by a class of aerospace engineers alleging a “no-poach” conspiracy among employers not to hire from each other from 2011 to the present. After the U.S. Department of Justice announced the criminal indictments of various aerospace executives for their alleged participation in the conspiracy in late 2021, it went to trial in April 2023 that resulted in a rare judicial judgment of acquittal six weeks later, allowing our client’s CEO to walk free.

Our cartel practice is well regarded throughout the industry, noted by clients as “prominent in antitrust circles” (Chambers USA) with a "successful record in cartel defense litigation" (Legal 500 – Cartels).


Representative Cartel Matters

  • Defending honey importer Export Packers Company Limited dba Odem International against an antitrust and RICO class action brought by a putative class of U.S. domestic beekeepers, relating to a purported conspiracy to sell foreign fake honey.
  • Assisting several global electronics and high-tech companies with their strategy and defense against cartel investigations by the UK CMA, the German Bundeskartellamt, and the European Commission, including defending those companies in private damages actions in front of UK courts, excluding them from investigations, substantially reducing fines, and obtaining advantageous settlements. 
  • Defending The Reynolds and Reynolds Company (“Reynolds”) in a case brought by Motor Vehicle Software Corporation (“MVSC”) alleging that Reynolds conspired with its competitor CDK Global LLC (“CDK”) to prevent MVSC from accessing the data it needed to compete in the Electronic Vehicle Registration and Titling markets in various states.
  • Represented an international fashion company in connection with DOJ criminal antitrust investigation relating to alleged discussions and agreements with competitors relating to ESG and pricing issues.
  • Successfully navigated a large energy company through self-disclosure under the DOJ Antitrust Division Leniency Policy marker process in a matter presenting complex legal and factual issues; DOJ closed the matter without charges or the matter becoming public. 
  • Successfully represented a Fortune 100 telecommunication and technology company through a non-public Antitrust Division criminal investigation. After navigating the company through two years of subpoena compliance and investigation, obtained a declination from DOJ, and the matter never became public.
  • Represented a healthcare executive in a non-public DOJ Antitrust Division criminal price-fixing investigation and obtained a DOJ declination for alleged criminal antitrust conspiracy and obstruction of justice.
  • Acted as lead trial counsel for defendants in a two-month antitrust trial in California federal court in case involving alleged price-fixing and market allocation claims relating to telescopes. Successfully obtained summary judgment on below-cost pricing and refusal to deal issues prior to trial.
  • Represented Samsung in numerous criminal and civil matters relating to alleged price-fixing of various products including CRTs, LCDs, SRAM, and DRAM.
  • Represented a light industrial government contractor in a criminal bid-rigging and wire fraud case.
  • Represented a government contractor in a criminal bid-rigging and collusion case.
  • Advised a UK company on the CMA’s cartel investigation into mobility scooters alleging vertical online price restrictions between manufacturers and retailers.
  • Represented ALSTOM in the EU/non-EU investigations of gas insulated switchgears and power transformers cases.

Representative No-Poach Litigation & Counseling

  • Representing aerospace industry outsource engineering supplier Cyient Inc. against antitrust claims brought by a class of aerospace engineers alleging a “no-poach” conspiracy among employers not to hire from each other from 2011 to the present. This consolidated suit is the largest such civil case filed to date, alleging a novel outsource supplier-customer conspiracy lasting over a decade and involving highly skilled employees. The civil litigation came after the U.S. Department of Justice announced the criminal indictments of various aerospace executives for their alleged participation in the conspiracy in December 2021, that resulted in a rare judicial judgment of acquittal.
  • Representing a major provider of construction materials in connection with a State Attorney General antitrust investigation relating to alleged conspiracy motivated by desire to reduce wages and/or benefits.
  • Representing the former Head of Human Resources for a technology and advertising company in a non-public DOJ Antitrust Division criminal no-poach investigation. 
  • Represented a corporate defendant in one of the first DOJ Antitrust Division criminal no-poach and wage-fixing prosecutions and negotiated first-ever corporate plea and novel resolution in such an investigation.
  • Represented a major California health insurer in a criminal no-poach and geographic allegation conspiracy case where leniency was obtained.






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