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The Antitrust Division of the U.S. Department of Justice (Division) finally will consider the existence of effective antitrust compliance programs at the charging stage of criminal antitrust investigations, opening up the possibility that cartel participants could avoid prosecution even if they are not a first-in leniency applicant. The Division’s previous, and longstanding, approach had been not to consider compliance programs at the charging stage, on the theory that a compliance program is by definition ineffective if it failed to prevent a criminal violation of the antitrust laws. The most important practical effect of this new policy is likely to be that the Antitrust Division will be more willing to consider the use of a deferred prosecution agreement (DPA) to resolve criminal cartel
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