Justice Department Probes Alleged Exploitation of Supply Chain

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FILE - A woman looks over shelves, some of which are empty, at a Walmart store in Teterboro, N.J., on Jan. 12, 2022. The Justice Department is launching a new initiative aimed at identifying companies that exploit supply chain disruptions in the U.S. to make increased profits in violation of federal antitrust laws. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig, File)

On Thursday, the Justice Department announced a new program to detect and prosecute corporations that overcharge customers and cooperate with competitors by exploiting supply chain disruptions.

The endeavor comes as the cost of shipping and producing commodities continues to rise due to pandemic-related supply chain constraints. Oil producers, ocean carriers, meat processors, and other industries have been probed by the Biden administration for boosting prices in the face of rising inflation.

The Justice Department announced on Thursday that it will investigate and prosecute corporations that attempt to profit from supply chain disruptions. The Justice Department is investigating antitrust violations such as agreements between corporations to fix pricing or salaries, rig bids, or allocate markets.

The Justice Department’s antitrust division established a worldwide working group to examine supply chain collusion, which will share information with authorities in Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom, and New Zealand.

The Biden administration is stepping up its price gouging tactics, which have sparked criticism from industry organizations that argue that rising prices are mostly a consequence of supply and demand.

According to Labor Department data, consumer prices climbed by 7.5 percent from January 2021 to January 2022, the fastest rate since February 1982.

The Biden administration has targeted industries controlled by a small number of corporations, claiming that limited competition leads to increased consumer costs.