ACCC to work with international agencies to tackle anti-competitive conduct by multinational companies

By Shannon Jenkins

Thursday September 3, 2020


The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has inked a deal to share intelligence, case theories and investigative techniques with competition agencies from four other countries.

The memorandum of understanding was signed virtually this week by the US Department of Justice, US Federal Trade Commission, the UK Competition and Markets Authority, the New Zealand Commerce Commission, the Competition Bureau Canada, and the ACCC, and came into effect on Wednesday.

ACCC chair Rod Sims said the deal would help competition investigators gather evidence across borders, benefiting consumers and businesses.

“The global economy is increasingly interconnected and many large companies, especially in the digital economy, now operate internationally. Competition regulators have to work together to ensure the companies comply with competition and consumer laws,” he said.

“We expect this cooperation will particularly benefit our existing and ongoing investigations of digital platforms, which are being closely watched by many agencies globally.”

Under the agreement, the agencies would be expected to cooperate where appropriate by exchanging information, collaborating on projects of mutual interest, and providing advice or training in areas of mutual interest “including through the exchange of officials and through experience-sharing events”.

Where confidential information has been provided, the receiving agency would be required to protect the confidentiality of the information, and to “return or destroy any records containing said information” at the request of the providing agency.

The framework included a template Model Agreement that agencies could use to establish cooperation arrangements focused on investigative assistance such as the sharing of confidential information, executing searches and seizures, and cross-border evidence gathering.

The ACCC has been cooperating closely with other competition agencies within the framework of the OECD and International Competition Network for more than 20 years, Sims noted. Last year it signed a cooperation agreement with the US Federal Bureau of Investigation to combat anti-competitive behaviour.

Sims said the new deal would complement the ACCC’s existing cooperation agreements with competition agencies in the US, Canada and NZ.

“It will improve the effectiveness and efficiency of competition investigations that span multiple jurisdictions,” he said.

“Tackling anti-competitive conduct by multinational companies is critical to national economies and this international cooperation will benefit consumers and businesses in Australia, the United States, Canada and NZ.”

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