Mexico Congress passes tougher monopoly penalties

AP News
Posted: Apr 28, 2011 11:58 PM
Mexico Congress passes tougher monopoly penalties

Mexico's Congress approved tougher penalties Thursday under a new antitrust law, including significant fines for companies and up to 10 years in prison for their executives.

The change to the Federal Law of Economic Competition establish fines of up to 10 percent of a company's annual profit for monopolistic practices. Previously, companies were sanctioned only for engaging in such activities more than once.

The law also establishes prison sentences of between three and 10 years for company officials who approve agreements with competitors to manipulate prices of goods and services.

The Senate approved the law Thursday. The lower house already passed the law, and it now goes to President Felipe Calderon for signing.

"If there is anything our economy needs its competition," said Sen. Santiago Creel, a member of Calderon's National Action Party.

The Senate's approval comes two weeks after Mexico's antitrust agency imposed an unprecedented $1 billion fine on billionaire Carlos Slim's Mexican cellphone company, Telcel, for alleged monopolistic practices.

The Federal Competition Commission concluded Telcel engages in "relative monopolistic practices" by overcharging competitors to connect calls to Telcel's customers.

Telcel is appealing, arguing it is not a repeat offender and cannot be fined that much under the current law.