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2008年11月15日 (土)

カルテル制裁強化

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Nov. 15, 2008)

Crack down on cartels with harsher penalties

カルテル 制裁強化で違反抑止を図れ(1115日付・読売社説)

Japanese, U.S. and European Union antitrust watchdogs have recently meted out a flurry of penalties to companies.

 日米欧の独占禁止当局によるカルテル摘発が相次いでいる。

Driving up prices of products through forming a cartel is a malicious act that will eventually leave consumers out of pocket by forcing them to pay higher prices for products.

 カルテルによる価格つり上げは、最終的に商品価格に上乗せされることで、消費者の不利益につながる悪質な行為だ。

In Japan, it is essential for the Fair Trade Commission to do its utmost to crack down on cartels, while beefing up penalties, including raising fines the FTC imposes, to make companies think twice about violating the law.

 公正取引委員会は、取り締まりの徹底と同時に、課徴金を引き上げるなど制裁を強化し、違反抑止に努める必要があろう。

The FTC this time plunged the scalpel into cartels allegedly formed by four major steel companies over the sale of galvanized steel plates. The FTC has filed criminal complaints with the public prosecutors against all but one company, which voluntary reported its involvement in the cartels, on suspicion of violating the Antimonopoly Law.

 公取委が今回、メスを入れたのは、住宅の屋根などに使用する亜鉛メッキ鋼板を手掛ける各社だ。対象となった4社のうち、自主申告した1社を除き、独占禁止法違反容疑で検察当局に告発した。

It has been pointed out that the steel industry still has a deep-rooted tendency to form cartels, as evidenced by its history of having received administrative punishments over cartels formed over the sale of stainless steel plates.

 鉄鋼業界は、過去にもステンレス鋼板をめぐって行政処分を受けるなど、根深いカルテル体質が残っていると指摘されている。

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U.S., EU take hard line

Meanwhile, the European Commission, the executive arm of the EU, announced Wednesday that it had imposed a fine of more than 1.3 billion euro, or nearly 170 billion yen, on four European and Japanese car glass producers, including Asahi Glass Co., for price-fixing. Asahi Glass was fined about 14 billion yen.

 一方、欧州連合(EU)の執行機関である欧州委員会は、旭硝子など日欧の4社に対し、自動車用ガラスでカルテルを結んだとして、日本円で1700億円近い制裁金を科すと発表した。旭硝子の制裁金は約140億円に上る。

The U.S. Justice Department has found wrongdoing in the activities of three liquid crystal display makers--Japan's Sharp Corp., a South Korean company and a Taiwanese company. The department on Wednesday imposed fines totaling 585 million dollars (about 55 billion yen) on the three companies for conspiring to prevent the prices of LCD monitors used for personal computers from dropping. Sharp faces a fine of about 11.5 billion yen.

 米司法省が問題としたのは、シャープなど日本、韓国、台湾のメーカー3社だ。パソコン用などの液晶ディスプレー販売で共謀して価格を維持しようとしたとして、約550億円の罰金を科す。シャープの罰金は約115億円だ。

As the FTC and EC are also investigating cartels over the sales of LCD screens, it is possible that criminal or administrative fines imposed on LCD makers will expand.

 液晶ディスプレーでのカルテルは、公取委や欧州委なども調査しており、罰金や制裁金が膨らむ可能性がある。

What is conspicuous in the recent spate of cartel cases is the huge amounts of fines imposed by the EU and U.S. authorities. The United States imposes a fine of up to 80 percent of sales of the products found to have been sold at higher prices through cartels, while the EU imposes a fine of up to 10 percent of each company's total sales.

 一連の摘発で目を引くのは、欧米の当局が科す金額の大きさである。米国は違反対象商品の売上高の最高80%の罰金を、EUは企業全体の売上高の最高10%の制裁金を科せる仕組みになっている。

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Firms need to realize risks

In Japan, on the other hand, the upper limit of criminal fines slapped on violators is 500 million yen. The upper limit of administrative fines that the FTC can impose in addition to criminal fines is 10 percent of sales of the products transacted through cartels. Repeat offenders, however, would see their administrative fines boosted by 50 percent.

 これに対し、日本では罰金の上限が5億円だ。併科できる課徴金は、最高で対象商品の売上高の10%だ。ただし、違反を繰り返した企業は5割増しとなる。

A bill to revise the Antimonopoly Law that is under deliberation at the Diet would enable the FTC to impose a fine 50 percent higher on companies that have played a leading role in forming cartels. The statute of limitations for prosecuting violators would be extended from three years to five years.

 現在、国会で継続審議となっている独禁法改正案では、違反で主導的役割を果たした企業についても5割増しにできるようにし、時効も3年から5年に延ばす。

Due to bitter rivalry between the ruling and opposition camps, deliberations on the legislation are not progressing. The bill needs to be passed through the Diet, but even if the revised law is enacted, Japan's punitive measures will remain far lighter than those of the United States and EU nations.

 与野党対立のあおりで、審議は進んでいない。早急に成立させる必要があるが、成立したとしても欧米とは大きな隔たりがある。

Wouldn't it be advisable for Japan to consider gradually raising criminal and administrative fines with international standards in mind?

 国際水準を視野に、日本も罰金や課徴金の段階的引き上げを検討すべきではないか。

Antitrust watchdogs in other countries are adopting ever-harsher stances toward cartels and bid-rigging. Japanese companies must take to heart the fact that their very existence could be jeopardized unless they operate in compliance with law.

 カルテルや談合に対する各国の独禁当局の姿勢は厳しくなるばかりだ。日本企業は、法令順守で経営に当たらねば、存続さえ危うくなることを肝に銘じるべきだ。

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Nov. 15, 2008)

200811150154  読売新聞)

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