The Justice Department (DOJ) and FBI will be investigating entities that may be exploiting supply chain disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the department announced Thursday.
As part of the new initiative, the DOJ’s Antitrust Division will prioritize current investigations into entities that may be exploiting supply chain issues for illicit profit.
“Temporary supply chain disruptions should not be allowed to conceal illegal conduct,” DOJ Antitrust Division Assistant Attorney General Jonathan Kanter said in a Thursday statement. “The Antitrust Division will not allow companies to collude in order to overcharge consumers under the guise of supply chain disruptions.”
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Specifically, the DOJ and FBI will be looking into companies and individuals that have colluded to fix prices or wages, rig bids or allocate markets, DOJ said in a press release.
The two agencies will work to prosecute those involved in such exploitative behavior.
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“The lingering challenge of supply chain disruptions from the COVID-19 pandemic has created an opportunity for criminals to fix prices and overcharge customers,” FBI Criminal Division Assistant Director Luis Quesada said. “The FBI and our law enforcement partners will continue to collaborate and investigate schemes that violate our antitrust laws and stifle our economic recovery.”
DOJ acknowledged that while businesses across a variety of industries have come up with innovative ways to combat supply chain issues and rising prices resulting from transportation constraints, routine business disruptions and difficulty obtaining raw materials, some bad actors have taken advantage of those disruptions to make more money.
The department is asking anyone with information about price fixing, bid rigging, market-allocation agreements or otherwise anti-competitive behavior to call the Antitrust Division’s Citizen Complaint Center at 1-888-647-3258 or visit http://www.justice.gov/atr/report-violations.