Eligibility for leniency application
The Leniency Programme offers different levels of benefits to businesses depending on:
- Whether the business is the first to come forward with information about the cartel; and
- Whether CCCS has already commenced investigations when the business comes forward.
Immunity from financial penalties
If your business is the first to provide CCCS with evidence of the cartel activity, and it does so before CCCS has commenced an investigation into the cartel, then, subject to the conditions stated below (amongst others), it will be entitled to immunity from financial penalties:
- Your business provides CCCS with all the information, documents and evidence available to it regarding the cartel activity;
- Your business maintains continuous and complete cooperation throughout the investigation and until the conclusion of any action by CCCS arising as a result of the investigation;
- Your business refrains from further participation in the cartel activity from the time it discloses the cartel to CCCS, unless CCCS directs otherwise;
- Your business is not the one that initiated the cartel and it did not coerce any other party to join in the cartel's activity;
- Your business unconditionally admits to the conduct for which leniency is sought; and
- Your business grants an appropriate waiver of confidentiality to CCCS in respect of any foreign country where your business may have also applied for leniency or in respect of any regulatory authority to which your business may have informed of the cartel activity.
Reduction of up to 100% in the level of financial penalties
If your business is the first to come forward to CCCS seeking leniency and it satisfies all the requirements above but it only comes forward after CCCS has started an investigation, your business will not qualify for immunity but it may still qualify for a reduction of up to 100% of the financial penalties. The extent of the reduction will be decided by CCCS, and will depend, amongst others, on:
- The stage of the investigation at which your business comes forward;
- The evidence that is already in CCCS’s possession; and
- The quality of the information provided by your business.
Reduction of up to 50% in the level of financial penalties
If your business is not the first to come forward, if your business has initiated the cartel activity or if your business has coerced another party to join in the cartel’s activity, you may still be granted a reduction of up to 50% of the financial penalties if you come forward before CCCS issues a notice of our proposed infringement decision under section 68(1) of the Act. However, you must comply with the requirements mentioned above, and the extent of the reduction will be decided by CCCS.
Quality of Information provided by the leniency applicant
Regardless of whether you are applying for immunity, reduction of up to 100% or reduction of up to 50% in the level of financial penalties, your business will have to, at a minimum, provide information and evidence to CCCS which would allow CCCS to commence an investigation or add significant value to an ongoing CCCS investigation, as applicable.
In addition to the leniency programme, CCCS also operates a leniency plus programme. Leniency plus incentivises businesses that are co-operating with CCCS in a cartel investigation in one market (the first market) to inform CCCS about their participation in a completely separate cartel in another market (the second market).
To qualify for leniency plus, a business would have to satisfy CCCS:
- That the information and evidence provided by the business relating to the cartel in the second market, is in fact a completely separate cartel from the cartel in the first market; and
- That the business is the first to come forward to CCCS with information and evidence about the cartel in the second market and would thus qualify for immunity from financial penalties or a reduction of up to 100% of the financial penalties.
If CCCS is satisfied of the above, then the business will be granted leniency (either immunity or a reduction of up to 100% of the financial penalties) in relation to the cartel in the second market and it will also be granted a reduction in the financial penalties, if any, imposed against it in the investigation in the cartel in the first market. This reduction in financial penalties will be in addition to any reduction it would have received for its cooperation in the investigation in the first market.