The effectiveness of leniency programs on cartel prosecution
: an economic analysis of the european case

  • Joana Mafalda Gabriel Santos Nicolau (Student)

Student thesis: Master's Thesis


In the last decades Antitrust Authorities have invested in the development of aggressive anti cartel programs in order to prevent and detect cartel cases. In this context were introduced leniency programs that have became a central tool on cartel prosecution. These programs are a legal revelation mechanism in which firms that report their participation in a cartel are granted with fine reductions, total immunity or even rewards. There are several dimensions over which leniency programs can be designed which have an important role determining its effectiveness. This thesis provides a survey on this topic and performs an economic analysis of the European Commission‟ leniency program. We conclude that the program is effective in the sense that is able to induce self-reports and therefore increase the number of cartels detected and the level of fines imposed. The program allows detecting long lasting cartels and decrease cartel size. However, there is some room for improvement. The number of repeated offenders is substantial and it‟s not found a significant reduction on investigation duration. The treatment of ringleaders and private damages actions are other issues that arouse discussion and are carefully addressed in this thesis.
Date of Award3 Nov 2015
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Universidade Católica Portuguesa
SupervisorJoão Confraria (Supervisor)


  • Mestrado em Economia

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