Justice Department's No. 2 antitrust official steps down

Signage is seen at the United States Department of Justice headquarters in Washington, D.C., U.S., August 29, 2020. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Barry Nigro stepped down from the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division last week, where he was No. 2 to Assistant Attorney General Makan Delrahim, and will rejoin his old law firm, according to a statement from the firm, Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver and Jacobson LLP.

Nigro, whose position was principal deputy assistant attorney general, joined the Justice Department in 2017 and began as Delrahim’s chief deputy last year. He returns to Fried Frank as chair of the antitrust department as of Nov. 2.

Both Nigro and Delrahim have been recused on what is arguably the biggest case of the division: the government’s lawsuit against Alphabet’s Google for allegedly breaking antitrust law, which was filed on Oct. 20.

Cases that Nigro worked on include Bayer’s $63 billion acquisition of Monsanto, which ended up requiring the companies to divest about $9 billion in assets. “We really had to wrestle with whether it could be fixed because of the size and complexity,” said Nigro.

Nigro was also involved in the department’s decision to make a deal to allow Sprint Corp to buy T-Mobile US for $26 billion last year. State attorneys general challenged that deal but lost.

On the criminal front, which can refer to price-fixing, Nigro said that the department had cases before more than 100 grand juries, more than a dozen of which came from a strike force aimed at fighting bid-rigging in government procurement.

Reporting by Diane Bartz; Editing by David Gregorio