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COFECE’s Leniency and Immunity Program: Frequently Asked Questions

Mexican COFECE, Leniency and Immunity Program: Frequently Asked Questions, 2016

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The purpose of this document is to raise awareness of the Mexican approach towards cartels and detail the rules and principles of the Federal Economic Competition Commission’s (COFECE, for its acronym in Spanish) Leniency Program as provided in the Federal Economic Competition Law (Mexico’s Antitrust Law), its Regulatory Provisions and the Leniency Guidelines. The Program aims to reach to individuals or economic agents1 who are or have been participating in hardcore cartels or collusive agreements (known as absolute monopolistic practices in the Mexican legal framework) that have as their purpose or effect to fix the prices; to restrict the output; to allocate a market; to rig bids; or to exchange information with any of these purposes or effects. Through the Leniency Program, participants that report the cartel, hand over evidence and abide to fully and permanently cooperate with COFECE, may receive criminal immunity and a total or partial reduction of the applicable fines.

First implemented in 2006, COFECE’s Leniency Program is celebrating its 10th anniversary. This instrument is nurtured by the experience of best international practices and has become a strategic tool that helps COFECE detect and sanction economic cartels. Also, this document aims to provide certainty and transparency for the possible applicants in order to gain their trust and encourage them to apply.

The Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) represent a much needed tool for foreign economic agents, who might be considering to join COFECE’s Leniency Program. Moreover, the document developed by COFECE looks forward to give certainty and depth regarding the functionality of an innovative tool, such as the Leniency Program, which is defined in a very technical and concise manner in Mexico’s Antitrust Law. In that regard, the FAQs provide a fresh and modern approach to the Leniency Program for foreign economic agents, taking on several key questions that may not be clear to them and that are fundamental to their decision-making process.

Some examples of these questions are: the requirements to apply, the scope of the program and its consequences, the manner in which COFECE interacts with the applicants, the information and evidence that applicants should provide, what should be considered as the obligation of full and continuous cooperation with COFECE, and how markers are granted, among others.

By means of this soft law, COFECE provides a new tool that complements the technical and concise framework regarding the Leniency Program; and, in that regard, intends to promote and boost applications to the Leniency Program in order to deter the formation of cartels and, ultimately, create a more competitive environment in the Mexican markets. COFECE estimates that the Leniency Program is, and will continue to be a key element in its fight against absolute monopolistic practices in our country.