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Shepard Goldfein and Karen Hoffman Lent

It is rare for defendants to admit in federal court that they formed a cartel with the goal of raising prices, let alone escape antitrust liability for it. And yet, that improbable circumstance came to bear nearly two years ago when the Second Circuit immunized a self-professed Chinese vitamin C cartel from antitrust scrutiny. According to the Second Circuit, the vitamin C manufacturers were required by Chinese law to coordinate prices, creating a “true conflict” between regulations issued by China’s Ministry of Finance and the Sherman Act. In such a situation, the Second Circuit found, “principles of comity” required the defendants be granted immunity from any potential antitrust liability.

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