On April 16, the CEO of the Hong Kong Competition Commission, Brent Snyder, announced sweeping changes to the agency's leniency program.1 This is the second round of changes in less than one year - the first occurring in May 2019 when the concept of "leniency plus"2 was adopted.3

Not surprisingly, given Snyder's prior tenure as deputy assistant attorney general for criminal enforcement at the U.S. Department of Justice, Antitrust Division, the reforms more closely - though not entirely - align the Hong Kong leniency program with the U.S. program.

In an interesting twist, the Hong Kong program is in some ways more progressive and offers greater protection to both companies and individuals that obtain leniency.

Type A and Type B Leniency

Two pillars of the U.S. leniency program are Type A and Type B leniency. The DOJ Antitrust Division grants the former when a leniency applicant is the first to self-report its role in cartel misconduct before the division has opened an investigation.

In contrast, Type B leniency is available before or after the inception of an investigation, when the division does not yet have sufficient evidence against the applicant to result in a sustainable conviction.

The Hong Kong leniency program now parallels the U.S., with the same benchmarks characterized as "Type 1" and "Type 2" leniency options.

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