Cartel investigation in the corn flour market in Mexico

Publication April 2019

Last week, Mexico’s Federal Economic Competition Commission (COFECE) announced that it has been conducting an ongoing investigation into whether companies or individuals established cartel arrangements (prácticas monópolicas absolutas) that have adversely affected the corn flour market.
 
The investigation, initiated ex officio by COFECE in October 2018 but publicly disclosed just this week, focuses on the manufacturing, distribution and marketing of corn flour, a key component of Mexico’s food industry that represents sales in excess of 24 billion pesos per year.
 
COFECE did not name the economic agents under investigation and noted that the investigation does not prejudge their actions or inactions.
 
After launching its investigation October 9, 2018, COFECE had an initial term of up to 120 business days to conduct its probe. But the initial term already has been extended another 120 days and could be extended two more 120-day terms.
 
At the conclusion of the probe, COFECE will issue a resolution either formally initiating a process against the involved economic agents or dismissing the case.
 
If COFECE holds that cartel arrangements in fact occurred, involved economic agents may face fines of up to 10 per cent of their revenue and will be ordered to cease the prohibited arrangement. (These fines would be irrespective of, and in addition to, any criminal or civil liability that the economic agents may face). Individuals found guilty of participating in cartel arrangements may also face substantial fines in addition to civil and criminal liability up to 10 years of imprisonment.

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