The Hazy Memory of Illegal Conduct: An Exploration of the Accuracy and Perceived Honesty of Cartel Offenders
Cartels have been described as the most serious violation of competition law, and their existence adversely affects national and international trade figures. This paper seeks to explore the accuracy and perceived honesty of information provided by alleged cartel offenders. There are two aspects to the methodological framework. First, content analysis of court outcomes from eleven jurisdictions is conducted to assess the accuracy of information provided to regulators and courts of law. The results show that cartel participants had hazy memories and could not accurately recollect their conduct in 10% of the matters analysed. Second, online surveys completed by competition regulators and lawyers reveal that over 52% of respondents reported some level of disagreement or uncertainty with the suggestion that when leniency applicants are interviewed regarding their cartel conduct, they usually tell the truth. Further, 58% of respondents reported some level of disagreement that when alleged cartel participants (other than leniency applicants) are interviewed regarding their cartel conduct, they usually tell the truth. The findings show that many cartel participants have somewhat questionable levels of truthfulness when discussing their alleged conduct, suggesting that competition regulators should seriously consider the weight and value placed on evidence provided by leniency applicants.
Keywords: Cartel Conduct, Content Analysis, Honesty, Leniency, Survey
Dr. Michelle Berzins
Tutor, School of Education & Community Studies, University of Canberra