MIDDLEBURY, Conn. (March 16)—Crompton Corp. pleaded guilty to illegal practices in the rubber chemicals market and has been fined $57 million and blown the whistle on yet another alleged "cartel" involving polyurethanes.
Crompton accepted fines of $50 million and $7 million in the U.S. and Canada over six years, respectively, after pleading guilty "to participating in a combination and conspiracy to suppress and eliminate competition by maintaining and increasing the price of certain rubber chemicals sold in the United States during the period 1995 to 2001."
However, a European Commission probe into Crompton's activities in this market is ongoing, Crompton said. The settlements with U.S. and Canadian authorities remain subject to court approvals, Crompton said.
Separately, Crompton has been granted conditional amnesties from U.S., Canadian and European Union authorities with regard to its price-fixing activities in the urethanes and urethane chemicals market—as it has done previously with regard to EPDM and nitrile rubber. Crompton's urethanes and urethane chemicals business had sales of $286 million in 2003, supplying TPUs, dispersions and polyols.
Crompton said it had completed its own internal investigation into illegal trading practices and has "strengthened its training and compliance programs and has taken personnel actions, where appropriate."
The internal investigations are "major steps in putting these issues behind us," according to Bob Wood, Crompton's newly appointed president and CEO. "We continue to work diligently to resolve the pending civil litigation and the EC's rubber chemicals investigation."