Antitrust Authority – About Us
1. The Authority's Mission
The Antitrust Authority and its leadership are responsible for maintaining and promoting competition in the Israeli economy. The Antitrust Authority was established in 1994 with the passage of the Antitrust Law Amendment and the addition of Article 41 to the law. The Antitrust Law provides the Director-General with various powers that make it possible to address anti-competitive behavior in all its forms. With these powers the authority makes efforts to increase and encourage competition where it exists, to create conditions for increased competition where it does not exist, to enforce the provisions of the law when they are violated, and to increase awareness of competition law.
The Authority also serves as an advisor to the government on matters of competition. As a result of the Authority's expertise in the field of competition, it is involved in governmental activities related to increasing competition in collaboration with various ministries. At the head of the Authority stands the Director-General of the Antitrust Authority, who is appointed in accordance with Article 41A(b) of the law as its director.
2. The Authority's Independence
Given the importance of competition as a societal value, it is necessary to have an independent antitrust authority that will remain impartial and free of political influence. This independence is necessary to carry out duties such as confronting businesses with significant economic power, which may try to exert pressure on the decision-making process in the case. Absolute independence allows the Authority to make its decisions in a professional way, and to enforce the law in an effective and impartial manner. In the mid-seventies the Committee on Mergers and Conglomerates asserted the importance of an independent authority as part of the conclusions to the report it submitted to the Minister of Justice and the Minister of Trade and Industry. The committee's members suggested creating "a central authority in charge of the various problems associated with mergers and antitrust…that would be an independent body." The Authority's independence is reflected through three key anchors: (a) independence of the Director-General, (b) budgetary independence and (c) institutional independence.
3. Organizational Structure
There are four professional departments under the direction of the Director-General: the Legal Department, the Economics Department, the Investigation Department (which includes the intelligence team) and the Administration and Human Resources Department. Each department is managed independently, with cooperation between departments to allow effective enforcement of the law.
The Authority's management includes the director-general and the department heads:
- Ms. Michal Halperin (Adv.), Director-General
- Dr. Yair Eilat, Chief Economist and Director of the Economics Department
- Mr. Ori Schwartz (Adv), Legal Advisor and Director of the Legal Department
- Mr. Haim Arbiv (Adv), Director of Investigations Department
- Mr. Nissim Mizrahi, Director of Administration and Human Resources Department
Office of the Director-General
Ms. Noa Zvi (Adv), Senior Assistant to the Director-General, is responsible for the authority's external relations with international competition organizations and foreign competition authorities, while Mr. Mark Schon (Adv), Spokesman, is responsible for spokesmanship and public relations. The management staff also includes Ms. Yaffa Nuriel – Manager of Public Affairs, Ms. Angela Tetruasvili– Director of the Office of the Director –General and Mr. Sason Simon – Transportation Coordinator and Director of Security, all of whom manage and run the Office of the Director-General, and additionally provide assistance to the Authority's management and staff.
Administration and Human Resources Department
The Administration and Human Resources Department is headed by Vice President Nissim Mizrahi, responsible for managing the Antitrust Authority's operations and for the overall budgetary and administrative needs of the Authority. The department is made up of a number of professional teams in the areas of: human resources, training and payroll; procurement, property management and logistics; information management, library and archives; and information and communication systems.
The Legal Department consists of teams engaged in civil and criminal proceedings, all of which report to the Authority's Legal Advisor.
The civil law teams coordinate legal activities relating to the exercise of the Director-General's powers under the law, in terms of implementing and interpreting the law. In this context, the teams take part in discussing competitive issues relating to the supervision of mergers and restrictive agreements and to implementing the law based on the circumstances of each case. The teams are responsible for proposing drafts for the Director-General's decisions with regards to monopoly declarations, decisions on exemptions, the reasoning for merger decisions, instructions to concentration groups, and recently decisions on the imposition of monetary penalties.
An additional responsibility of this department is to represent the Director–General before the courts. The department represents the Director-General whenever any of his decisions are appealed to the Antitrust Tribunal or to the Supreme Court. The department also represents the Director-General before other courts exercising powers under the law.
In addition to providing representation in civil proceedings, lawyers in the Legal Department serve as representatives of the Attorney General in filing indictments and handling criminal proceedings regarding violations of the law. The criminal law teams primarily engage in bringing indictments and managing the subsequent cases against businesses and people who have violated the law. Cartel-related offenses, for example involving multiple parties putting forward a façade of competition while in reality maintaining anti-competitive practices, often involve multiple defendants (including both businesses and their managers) and lead to complex and highly-detailed cases.
The Legal Department provides services to the general public, the legal community, and businesses in matters relating to the interpretation of the law, particularly with regards to mergers and block exemptions. The department also handles complaints and requests for assistance in matters relating to the Authority's areas of expertise.
In addition, the Legal Department works continuously to improve antitrust law, including through initiatives to amend the law and related legislation and through involvement in other legislation which would affect the state of competition in the economy.
The division of labor in the Legal Department is based on the principle of specialization, with each lawyer specializing on a specific sector of the economy and gaining expertise in it. Each lawyer has in-depth knowledge of the unique characteristics, both legal and economic, of the sector in which he is engaged, together with familiarity with the regulatory reality of that sector.
The Legal Department is made up of around 30 lawyers and seven interns, most with backgrounds in economics and business administration in addition to their legal expertise. The department is headed by the Legal Advisor, Mr. Ori Schwartz.
Antitrust laws are a set of legal norms that revolve around the economic phenomenon of market power. Naturally there is a close connection between economic analyses in the area of competition and the drafting and enforcement of certain aspects of the law. To illustrate, the analyses of competition economics are a key element in deciding whether to approve a merger between firms, whether to declare a firm a monopolist or whether to grant an exemption to a cartel agreement. The Antitrust Authority's Economics Department is responsible for economic analyses and is engaged daily in examining the effects of mergers, restrictive agreements and the business conduct of monopolies on both competition and consumers.
In terms of merger oversight, the Economics Department carries the bulk of the burden associated with examining the mergers. It must gather and analyze facts on tight deadlines, with the assistance of the Legal Department when needed. In special cases, where time allows, the Economics Department conducts a preliminary merger examination, prior to the merger proceeding (pre-ruling). The department also examines the different sectors of the economy, defines relevant markets and measures markets shares prior to declaring a monopoly. In addition, the department accompanies attorneys investigating restrictive arrangements, and preforms the necessary financial tests before declaring a concentration group.
Department economists serve as witnesses for the Director-General in court proceedings. They defend the Director-General's decisions, including declaration of monopolies or concentration groups and appeals against declarations, approvals or objections to mergers or restrictive arrangements, such decisions having been based on economic analyses. In addition, senior economists from the department serve as expert witnesses in criminal proceedings when such testimony is necessary.
The Economics Department sees providing prompt and courteous service to the business community as the foundation of its work, along with protecting competition and the public, and it aims to improve its service both through quicker response times and enhanced analytic capabilities.
There are several different professional teams at work in the Economics Department, all of which adhere to the principle of specialization: an economist gains expertise in a particular area and regularly follows the developments in that area. In addition, a research team is responsible for examining aspects spanning all of the Authority's activities, organizing professional seminars and determining the content of the internal professional seminars held by the department. The department includes 29 economists with degrees in economics, some of who also hold degrees in business administration or law, as well as an Antitrust Registrar. Under Article 42 of the Antitrust Law, the Antitrust Registrar is responsible for registering all of the Director-General's decisions, and for publishing them in the official gazette and daily newspapers, along with decisions of the Mergers and Exemptions Committee. The head of the Economics Department is Dr. Assaf Eilat, who took over the office from Dr. Shlomi Parizat in February 2013.
The role of the Authority's Investigation Department is to investigate suspected violations of antitrust law. Evidence is gathered during the investigations, which as circumstances permit, will allow the suspects to be brought to justice by the Legal Department attorneys representing the Attorney General.
To carry out their duties the Authority's investigators are authorized, under Articles 45 and 46 of the Antitrust Law, to demand that any individual hand over of information, agreements, ledgers and other documents needed to ensure the implementation of the law, to investigate any person for an offense under the law, to enter any premises where business is being conducted and to seize any object that can reasonably be expected to serve as admissible evidence of a violation of a provision of the law. Investigators may detain, arrest and release suspects in accordance with Criminal Procedure (Enforcement Powers – Detention) Law, 5756-1996. Following every investigation the Investigation Department passes the investigative materials on to the Authority's Legal Department, which decides, based on the evidence, whether the circumstances of the case call for the suspect to be indicted for the offense.
The Investigation Department includes intelligence and investigation teams made up of investigators with university degrees in law, economics, accounting and business administration. The department is headed by Haim Arbiv (Adv), Director of Investigations.
The Concentration Division
The Law for the Promotion of Competition and the Reduction of Concentration of 2013 established that government ministries that are seeking to allocate public assets (licenses, contracts or shares in essential infrastructures and in the privatization of government corporations) to "concentrated entities" must take into consideration, in consultation with the Committee to Reduce Concentration, the effect of such allocations on the level of economy-wide concentration in the economy. The Director General of the Antitrust Authority serves as the Chairman of the Committee and its members include the Director General of the Ministry of Finance and the Head of the National Economic Council.
The Concentration Division within the Antitrust Authority is responsible for managing the professional and administrative work of the Committee to Reduce Concentration, including the formulation of recommendations for Committee opinions. The Division also formulates and publishes the lists of business groups with significant levels of market activity (both financial entities and non-financial corporations) or who hold rights in essential infrastructures (concentrated entities), in accordance with the stipulations of the Law.
The Division is headed by the Coordinator of the Committee to Reduce Concentration and the members of its staff include attorneys, economists and business school graduates.
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