Amnesty/leniency programmes are widely used by competition agencies with important results in the terms of the number of cartels detected. Amnesty/leniency programmes rely on the incentives that businesses have to bring an undetected cartel to the agency’s attention in exchange for amnesty or for a more lenient approach when it comes to setting the fine. These incentives rest on the perceived probability that the cartel will be detected by the authority and be punished severely. It follows that if competition agencies can somehow increase the probability of detecting cartels, they may be able to induce more amnesty/leniency applications. Amnesty/leniency programmes not only unveil cartels but they also allow the agency to access evidence that they might not otherwise have through the more traditional investigative tools. In this sense, amnesty/leniency policies enhance both detection and prosecution of cartels and increase the level of cartel desistence and deterrence.
Ex officio cartel investigations and the use of screens to detect cartels