Saturday, July 28, 2007

When "Amnesty" Is Bad Public Policy

The Department of Justice's anti-trust bunch has interesting rules.

The setup to the below graf is this: the DOJ anti-trust folks lost a case against Stora Enso. Stora Enso was prosecuted due to an admission of price-fixing by a competitor, who received a "corporate leniency policy" amnesty.

But the problem in other criminal antitrust prosecutions is that there is never a light of day. The Corporate Leniency Policy serves one overriding purpose: To keep Antitrust Division investigations secret and avoid any meaningful judicial or public scrutiny. Amnesty agreements are state secrets. The DOJ won’t officially identify any firm that receives amnesty, even in cases dating back more than 15 years. Since the DOJ classifies amnesties as exercises of “prosecutorial discretion,” they are not submitted to any court or disclosed to the public. The courts accept this lack of transparency. Just this past March, a district judge in Washington upheld the DOJ’s refusal to disclose its amnesty agreements under the Freedom of Information Act.

THIS is the kind of stuff that civil-libertarians folks would go crazy over, were it not concerning EEEEEEEEEVVVVIL corporations and (largely) hidden behind curtains inside vaults.

Thank God that Overlawyered pays attention.

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