EU antitrust regulators unveiled plans to help individuals blow the whistle on cartels while protecting their identity — a move which may lead to more cases of wrongdoing being uncovered in the future.
The European Commission, which currently relies on a leniency program in which companies alert them to cartels in exchange for no sanction, said the scheme is aimed at employees who want to do the right thing by stopping illegal price fixing. The scheme protects whistleblowers’ anonymity through an encrypted messaging system where whistleblowers can contact the Commission without forwarding any of the usual metadata that would identify the person.
EU Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager said “Inside knowledge can be a powerful tool to help the Commission uncover cartels and other anti-competitive practices. With our new tool it is possible to provide information, while maintaining anonymity.”
The Commission has handed down 7.7 billion euros ($8.26 billion) in fines to various cartels in the last five years, sanctioning truckmakers, banks and car parts makers. It is expected that the new avenue for whistleblowers will increase the likelihood of detection and prosecution and will further deter businesses from entering or remaining in cartels. Reuters
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