SAN FRANCISCO (Oct. 13)—Bayer A.G. has agreed to plead guilty to and pay a $4.7 million criminal fine for participating in a conspiracy to fix the prices of nitrile rubber for eight months during 2002.
According to the one-count felony charge filed in U.S. District Court in San Francisco, Bayer conspired with "unnamed co-conspirators to suppress and eliminate competition" for NBR in the U.S. and elsewhere from May through December 2002.
Under the plea agreement, which must be approved by the court, Bayer has agreed to assist the government in its ongoing investigation, according to the Department of Justice, which said this case is the first in an ongoing investigation of price fixing in the NBR industry.
NBR—technically, acrylonitrile-butadiene rubber—is used to make automotive parts, hose, belting, cable, o-rings, seals, adhesives and sealants.
Bayer was charged with violating Section 1 of the Sherman Act, which carries a maximum fine of $10 million for corporations and a maximum penalty of three years imprisonment and a fine of $350,000 for individuals for violations occurring before June 22, 2004.
This is the third price-fixing case to which Bayer has agreed to plead guilty. Earlier this year it agreed to pay a fine of $66 million for charges related to the sale of rubber chemicals during 1995-2001 and $33 million for participating in a conspiracy from 1998 to 2002 to fix prices of aliphatic polyester polyols.