The US Department of Justice announced on Thursday that it will investigate and punish companies found “exploiting supply chain disruptions for illicit profit”, as the White House continues to blame rising prices on “corporate greed.”
In a statement, the DOJ said it would work for “Deter, detect and prosecute those who would exploit supply chain disruptions to engage in collusive behavior.” The DOJ also said it would prioritize “any ongoing investigation in which competitors may exploit supply chain disruptions for illicit purposes.”
“While many people and businesses across various sectors of the economy have responded and will continue to respond to the supply chain disruptions caused by the pandemic with commendable ingenuity,” the department said, “others may seek to use supply chain disruptions as cover for collusive schemes.”
For those seeking to exploit supply chain disruptions for their own illicit gain, the Antitrust Division, along with the FBI, will investigate and prosecute criminal violations of antitrust laws.
Evidence that individuals or companies are conspiring to “fixing prices or wages, rigging bids or dividing up markets” will result in prosecution, the DOJ warned, calling on members of the public to report those suspected of such activity.
Assistant Attorney General Jonathan Kanter said in his own statement that “temporary supply chain disruptions” should not be allowed “covering up illegal behavior”.
“The Antitrust Division will not allow companies to collude to overcharge consumers under the guise of supply chain disruptions,” he said.
FBI Deputy Director Luis Quesada also noted that supply chain problems in the United States have given criminals the opportunity to conspire to “fix prices and overcharge customers”, and vowed that the intelligence agency would crack down on those who engage in the practice.
The Biden administration has repeatedly blamed price hikes in the United States on “corporate greed,” and in December, White House press secretary Jen Psaki claimed “the greed of meat conglomerates” was responsible for the huge rise in meat prices.
However, meat is not the only product that has seen a huge price increase since Biden’s inauguration last year.
Food, housing and fuel costs in the United States continue to soar
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, between November 2020 and November 2021, gasoline prices increased by 58.1%, while new vehicles and used cars increased by 11.1% and 31.4 %. Overall food prices rose 6.1%.
Conservatives have criticized the Biden administration for blaming the rise in prices on corporate greed, pointing out that such levels of inflation were not present under the Trump administration, which was also affected by the Covid pandemic -19.