On March 16, a bill which introduces an important reform to Chilean Antitrust Law was signed by the President and sent to Congress. It contains -among others- the following main changes:
- It will introduce criminal penalties for individual participant in cartels, with prison time of up to 10 years.
- It will introduce mandatory merger control (departing from the current voluntary control), for operations that surpass certain thresholds, not yet determined. A two-phase system is established: a general 25 days review to see if the operation entails any possible antitrust risk and, if that is the case, a thorough 90 days investigation. This control will be performed by the National Economic Prosecutor, and the parties will be entitled to challenge its decision before the Antitrust Court.
- It will increase maximum fines applicable to breaches to antitrust law. They will now have a maximum limit of the double of the economic benefit obtained by the breaching party, or to up to 30% of its sales during the period in which the breach occurred (currently, fines have a fixed maximum of approximately US$25 million).
- The rule of reason will not longer apply to cartel cases, as those conducts will now be considered per se illegal.
- Class actions for breaches to competition will be expressly included in the law.
The discussions in the Congress have started, and the new reform -as amended by Congress-, will probably be enacted on late 2015 or early 2016.