The Antitrust Week In Review
Here are some of the developments in antitrust news this past week that we found interesting and are following.
FTC Leaves La. Appraisers Board Defense Intact For Now. The Louisiana Real Estate Appraisers Board will be able to argue that it made a good faith attempt to comply with federal law when a Federal Trade Commission challenge to its fee-setting rules goes to trial before an administrative law judge in September, according to a commission order made public Wednesday. The commission agreed with the appraisers board (which is represented by Constantine Cannon) in rejecting an FTC staff request for partial summary judgment from the commission prohibiting the board from making that argument at trial. FTC Chairman Joseph J. Simons said in the commission’s order that the agency has never considered the good faith attempt defense as it applies to compliance with the Dodd-Frank Act, the 2010 law enacted following the last decade’s financial crisis, and the defense should be tested in the upcoming proceeding.
EU antitrust regulators to fine banks for forex exchange rate rigging – sources. EU antitrust regulators are set to fine a group of banks including Barclays, Citigroup , HSBC and JPMorgan in the coming weeks for rigging foreign exchange rates, two people familiar with the matter said. Royal Bank of Scotland, UBS and a small Japanese bank will also be penalized, the people said. The banks will see a 10 percent cut in their fines for admitting wrongdoing.
Facebook Objects to Chris Hughes Essay Calling for Its Breakup. Facebook pushed back Thursday after Chris Hughes, a billionaire co-founder of the company, argued in a New York Times Op-Ed essay that the company should be broken up and regulated. “Facebook accepts that with success comes accountability,” Nick Clegg, Facebook’s vice president for global affairs and communication, wrote in a statement. “But you don’t enforce accountability by calling for the breakup of a successful American company.”
U.S. state AGs looking into Expedia Group, hotel practices in antitrust probe. A group of U.S. state attorneys general are investigating Expedia Group and hotel chains like Hyatt Hotels Corp. and Marriott International Inc. for alleged violations of antitrust law in online travel booking, according to a court filing. The filing in a state court in Utah relates to a dispute originally filed in Texas in which Travelpass accused the hotel chains last year of agreeing with each other, and with online travel groups like Expedia, to not advertise to consumers who searched for another company’s hotel. This means, for example, that a traveler who searches online for a Marriott in Dallas would not be shown advertising for competing hotels, the Travelpass lawsuit alleges.
Banca IMI Securities Corp. pleads guilty to antitrust charge: U.S. Justice Department. Banca IMI Securities Corp has pleaded guilty to an antitrust charge and was sentenced to a pay a criminal fine of more than $2 million for its involvement in a conspiracy to rig bids for pre-release American Depository Receipts (ADRs), the U.S. Justice Department said in a statement on Friday. It said the New York-based broker-dealer, which is indirectly controlled by Banca IMI, admitted that it engaged in the conspiracy with other institutions and individuals between March 2012 and at least August 2014. The broker pleaded guilty to conspiring to borrow pre-release ADRs from U.S. depository banks at artificially suppressed rates, the statement said.