Apple Inc. (AAPL) e-books monitor to stay, but is issued boundaries
An antitrust monitor will continue to watch over Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) during their appeal of a court order that created the position. The appeals court asked for a stay of an external compliance monitor in an e-books price-fixing conspiracy case, but boundaries were set.
The Department of Justice, 33 states and U.S. territories charged Apple and five major U.S. book publishers with conspiring to raise prices in the e-book market in 2010. The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York ordered the appointment of the monitor to evaluate whether Apple’s compliance and training programs were designed to detect and prevent antitrust law violations in the future.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit observed that the government explained at oral argument that the injunction from the District Court ensures that not only does Apple have antitrust compliance programs in place, but Apple’s senior executives and board members are instructed on what these compliance policies mean. “The government conceded that the injunction would not allow the monitor to investigate whether such personnel were in fact complying with the antitrust or other laws,” said the court.
The monitor will now be empowered to demand only documents that are relevant to his authorized responsibility and to interview Apple directors, officers, and employees on subjects that are relevant to that responsibility. The monitor, Michael R. Bromwich, reportedly has high fees and he has been described as “adversarial, inquisitorial and prosecutorial.”
Bromwich complained that he lacked access to Apple staff and documents. He said that in the two months since his appointment, seven of the eleven people on his team were permitted to interview lawyers instead of business execs.