Cartel Investigations: Recent Challenges to Colombia's Leniency Programme
Attorney Bettina Sojo wrote an article for Financier Worldwide on the increasingly important issue of cartel investigations in Colombia. Cartels benefit from business practices that lead to higher prices, and reduce innovation and the quality of products and services offered by companies not involved.
In 2009, the implementation of Law 1340 gave the Superintendence of Industry and Commerce (SIC) the national authority over investigating and prosecuting infringement of competition regulations. Since then, the SIC has sought to prevent companies—and cartels—from entering into agreements that are likely to reduce competition. They have introduced major sanctions and other regulatory decisions to aid in this endeavor, while also adhering to the rules of the General Secretariat of the Andean Community (SGAC), of which Colombia is a member country.
Alongside this, the Benefits for Cooperation Programme was also established in Colombia in 2009 to restrain the negative effects caused by cartels; the leniency program awards benefits to individuals and corporations that have participated in conduct that violates competition regulations in the past, but decide to cooperate with the prosecution authority in the present by providing important information and evidence related to anticompetitive conduct.
Challenges have arisen over the years due to the number of products and companies impacted by sanctions, as well as the sometimes questionable investigations managed by the different governing bodies.