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EU Fines BMW, Volkswagen USD 1B in Antitrust Case

By GAN Integrity

Welcome to This Week In Compliance: GAN’s weekly news roundup, where we curate the latest stories on compliance and anti-corruption to keep you informed. This week, the EU fines BMW and Volkswagen 1B in an antitrust case. Read the full story and more news below:

Top Story

EU Fines BMW, Volkswagen USD 1B in Antitrust Case:

The European Commission fined Volkswagen and BMW USD 1.03 B for antitrust violations. According to the charges, the companies acted in a cartel-like fashion by conspiring to withdraw emissions-cleaning technology they had jointly developed from the market to avoid competition. The companies chose not to reduce harmful emissions beyond the EU’s requirements, constituting collusion on technical development. Margrethe Vestager, the EU Commission’s Antitrust Vice President, stated that fair competition and innovation were essential in achieving the green ambitions set in the EU’s Green New Deal, a broad-scale policy initiative that aims to make Europe carbon neutral by 2050. Volkswagen will pay USD 592B and BMW will pay USD 440M. Daimler was also found guilty but will not pay a fine as it blew the whistle on misconduct to the Commission.


U.S. States Announce USD 26B Opioid Settlement:

Several U.S. states issued a landmark settlement of USD 26B with McKesson Corp, AmerisourceBergen Corp., Cardinal Health, and Johnson & Johnson over the opioid crisis. The deal, which has been under negotiation for three years, resolves thousands of lawsuits accusing the companies of causing a country-wide deadly painkiller addiction, leading to many deaths. The states that will be receiving the money are expected to use it for social services related to preventive education and addressing the harms caused by opioid addictions.

Greek Prosecutor Wants Novartis’ Whistleblower Identities Revealed:

Vasiliki Theodorou, Deputy Prosecutor of the Greek Supreme Court, issued a public statement proposing that the identity of the whistleblowers in the Novartis’ case should be revealed to the public to uncover ‘the essential truth of the case.’ The case began to be investigated after two whistleblowers accused Greek public officials of taking bribes from Novartis. In 2020, Novartis paid USD 347M to the U.S. Department of Justice after admitting to bribing Greek public officials and healthcare providers to sell their drugs at inflated prices. 

U.K. SFO Accused of Undermining Whistleblower in GPT Case:

Ian Foxley, a retired lieutenant colonel in the British army that blew the whistle on GPT Special Project Management for corruption, accused the U.K. Serious Fraud Office (SFO) of undermining his compensation claim. His tip eventually led to Airbus’s EUR 28.1M fine for its corrupt relation with GPT Management. According to the accusation, the SFO downplayed Foxley’s role in the case after he suffered reprisals and retaliation at work and did not provide him with proper legal protection considering his role. 

Regulatory Updates

EU to Ban Cryptocurrency Anonymity:

In a series of announcements committing to issue tighter regulation to prevent money laundering in the EU, financial services commissioner Mairead McGuiness announced plans of ending one of cryptocurrency’s defining features: anonymity. The proposed plan aims to extend current financial regulation to the crypto sector, requiring stricter KYC (Know Your Customer) verifications to confirm the identity of transacting entities. The announcement came along with a proposal to establish an EU-wide Anti-Money Laundering Authority, which will cost EUR 45.6M to run.


Israeli Court Issues Landmark Corruption Sentence:

Faina Kirschenbaum, a former deputy minister of Israel, was sentenced to 10 years in jail for money laundering, fraud, tax evasion, bribery, and breach of trust. The former deputy minister will also pay a fine of USD 247,000. According to the court, Kirschenbaum orchestrated one of Israel’s largest corruption cases known as Case 242, which investigated graft among politicians of the Yisrael Beitenu political party. It is reported that Kirschenbaum was responsible for the funneling of government funds to entities in exchange for favors, by which she received more than USD 600,000. Other high-ranking politicians were also sentenced in the same case.

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