Attorney General: Antitrust Violation Landing page

STOP ANTITRUST VIOLATIONS

The Office of the Connecticut Attorney General has primary responsibility to investigate and prosecute antitrust and other competition-related actions on behalf of consumers, businesses and governmental units.  The Connecticut Antitrust Act (“CT ATA”) is the Attorney General's primary tool to ensure open and competitive markets [1]. Information gathered pursuant to a CT ATA investigation is CONFIDENTIAL and exempt from disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act. [2]

The CT ATA, Conn. Gen. Stat. §§ 35-24 et seq. makes it unlawful to restrain trade or commerce by fixing, controlling or maintaining prices, allocating or dividing customers or markets or refusing to deal or inducing third parties to deal with another person. The ATA also makes it unlawful for a person to monopolize or attempt to monopolize any part of trade or commerce.

Violations of the ATA subject the individual or business committing the violation to treble damages plus attorney’s fees and costs. In addition, the ATA subjects an individual held to have violated its provisions to a civil penalty of up to $100,000, and subjects a business or corporate entity held to have violated its provisions to a civil penalty of up to $1,000,000. Leave it to us to figure out whether or not your complaint is within the scope of the CT ATA, or other applicable law. If in doubt, report!

What is illegal conduct under the antitrust laws?  Following are examples of potential antitrust violations:

1. Price Fixing - Price fixing is an agreement among competitors to raise, fix, or otherwise maintain the price at which their goods or services are sold. It is not necessary that the competitors agree to charge exactly the same price, or that every competitor in a given industry join the conspiracy. Price fixing can take many forms, and any agreement among competitors that restricts price competition violates the law. Examples of price-fixing agreements include those to:
a) Establish or adhere to price discounts;
b) Hold prices firm;
c) Eliminate or reduce discounts;
d) Adopt a standard formula for computing prices;
e) Maintain certain price differentials between different types, sizes, or quantities of products;
f) Adhere to a minimum fee or price schedule;
g) Fix credit terms;
h) Not advertise prices; or
i) Exchange current non-public price information.
2. Bid Rigging  - Bid rigging is the way that conspiring competitors effectively raise prices when purchasers seek to acquire goods or services by soliciting competing bids. Bid rigging robs the purchaser requesting bids of the ability to receive the lowest price possible.
a) Bid Suppression - In bid suppression schemes, one or more competitors who otherwise would be expected to bid, agree to refrain from bidding or withdraw a previously submitted bid, so that the designated winning competitor’s bid will be accepted.

b) Complementary Bidding - Complementary bidding (also called “cover” or “courtesy” bidding) occurs when one or more competitors agree(s) to submit bids that are either too high to be accepted or purposely contain special conditions that will not be acceptable to the purchaser. Such bids are not intended to secure the purchaser’s acceptance, but are merely designed to give the appearance of genuine competitive bidding. Complementary bidding schemes are the most frequently occurring forms of bid rigging and they defraud purchasers by creating the appearance of competition in order to conceal secretly inflated prices.

c) Bid Rotation - Bid rotation schemes are similar to (and often components of) complementary bidding schemes. In bid rotation schemes, all conspirators submit bids, but take turns on being the low bidder. The terms of the rotation may vary; for example competitors may take turns on contracts according to the size of the contract, allocating equal amounts to each conspirator or allocating volumes that correspond to the size of each conspirator company. A strict bid rotation pattern defies the law of chance and suggests collusion is taking place.

d) Subcontracting - Subcontracting arrangements are often part of a bid-rigging scheme. Competitors agree not to bid or to submit a losing bid in exchange for subcontracts or supply contracts from the successful low bidder. In some schemes the collusion may take place during the bidding process; for example, a low bidder may agree to withdraw its winning bid in favor of the next low bidder in exchange for a lucrative subcontract that divides the illegally obtained higher price between them.
3. Market Division - Market division or allocation schemes, sometimes known as “property rights” systems, are agreements in which competitors divide markets among themselves. In such schemes, competing firms allocate among themselves specific customers or types of customers, products, or geographic territories. For example, one competitor will be allowed to sell to or bid on contracts let by certain customers or types of customers. In return, he or she agrees not to sell to, or bid on contracts let by, customers allocated to other competitors. In other schemes, competitors agree to sell only to customers in certain geographic areas and refuse to sell to, or quote intentionally high prices to, customers in geographic areas allocated to conspirator companies.



REPORT POTENTIAL ANTITRUST VIOLATIONS

Report potential antitrust violations in any of the following ways:

Email - ag.fraud@ct.gov 

Telephone Fraud Tips Line - call 1-860-808-5354

Fax - Fax Complaint Form to 1-860-808-5391

Mail - Mail Complaint Form (along with supporting information) to following address:

            Office of the Attorney General

            State of Connecticut

            Antitrust and Government Program Fraud Department

            FRAUD/ANTITRUST COMPLAINT

            P.O. Box 120

            Hartford, CT 06141-0120



[1] Conn. Gen. Stat. §35-24, et seq.

[2] Conn. Gen. Stat. §35-42(c)