China: Antitrust compliance credit now available for SAMR-verified programs

By neub9
2 Min Read

On 26 April 2024, the State Administration of Market Regulation (SAMR) introduced the Amended Anti-monopoly Compliance Guidelines for Business Operators. A key highlight of the Guidelines is the provision of credit for antitrust programs verified by the authority. The amended version offers more detailed guidance compared to the original 2020 Guidelines, including case studies and insights on key antitrust risks.

Companies meeting specific criteria can receive “credit” before or during a formal investigation process. The Guidelines outline the prerequisites and process for granting credit, which varies based on the stage of enforcement. To apply for antitrust compliance credit, companies must demonstrate a well-designed, earnestly implemented, and effective compliance mechanism. SAMR evaluates whether the compliance mechanism embeds systematic policies, comprehensive management organization, and an adequate risk management system.

The Guidelines encourage companies to continuously enhance their compliance mechanisms or establish new ones, focusing on long-term effectiveness and robust compliance practices. During a probationary phase, companies can identify and rectify flaws in their existing compliance mechanisms or set up new ones based on the Guidelines’ framework.

SAMR recommends a tailored compliance mechanism suitable for a company’s business scope, governance structure, and scale. Multinational companies are advised to align with antitrust compliance management in other key jurisdictions to ensure stable cross-border operations. The Guidelines emphasize integrating compliance management into day-to-day operations, identifying antitrust risks, and regularly reviewing and improving compliance mechanisms.

In other jurisdictions, similar policies incentivize compliance and reward companies for managing potential competition law risks. The additional guidance from SAMR provides clear incentives for businesses in China to prioritize and invest in compliance. An effective compliance system not only mitigates financial risks but also supports governance and protects business continuity in the long term.

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