Former Bayer A.G. rubber chemicals executive Wolfgang Koch has agreed to plead guilty, serve time in prison and pay a criminal fine for his role in an international price-fixing conspiracy.
Koch-product manager of rubber chemicals at Bayer during the time he participated in the conspiracy-was charged with fixing the prices of rubber chemicals sold in the U.S. and elsewhere from January 1999 until December 2001, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.
The German national agreed to serve a four-month prison term, pay a $50,000 fine and assist the government in its ongoing rubber chemicals investigation, the DOJ said. The plea agreement must be approved by the U.S. District Court in San Francisco, where the felony case was filed.
"Individuals who participate in illegal price-fixing conspiracies affecting products sold in the U.S. will be prosecuted regardless of nationality," said R. Hewitt Pate, assistant attorney general in charge of the department's antitrust division. "These conspiracies harm millions of American consumers."
Koch was charged with violating Section 1 of the Sherman Act, which carries a maximum penalty for individuals of three years imprisonment and a $350,000 fine for violations occurring prior to June 22, 2004.
Earlier Martin Petersen, a former Bayer executive, and former Crompton executives Joseph B. Eisenberg and James J. Conway pleaded guilty to participating in the conspiracy and await sentencing.
Bayer and Crompton have pleaded guilty to participating in the conspiracy and paid fines in the U.S. of $66 million and $50 million, respectively. Overall, the DOJ has levied more than $100 million in criminal fines in the rubber chemicals investigation.