A U.S. federal grand jury has indicted former Bayer A.G. executives Jurgen Ick and Gunter Monn for participating in an international price-fixing conspiracy in the rubber chemicals industry.
In separate indictments, filed in U.S. District Court in San Francisco, the grand jury charged Ick and Monn with conspiring with other corporate and individual co-conspirators to suppress competition by fixing the prices of rubber chemicals sold in the U.S. and elsewhere, according to the U.S. Department of Justice. Ick headed Bayer's rubber business group from the mid-1990s through 2002, and Monn was in charge of marketing.
They are the third and fourth Bayer executives charged in the conspiracy investigation. Earlier, Wolfgang Koch, product manager of rubber chemicals, and Martin Petersen, head of global marketing and sales for Bayer's rubber business group, pleaded guilty to participating in the price-fixing scheme. Koch is serving a four-month prison term at the U.S. Penitentiary at Lampoc, Calif., and agreed to pay a $50,000 fine. Petersen is awaiting sentencing.
Ick and Monn were charged with violating Section 1 of the Sherman Act, which carries a maximum penalty of three years in prison and a $350,000 fine.
Ick was charged with participating in the conspiracy from 1995 to 2001, and Monn with participating starting in January 1997. Both are German citizens residing in Germany.
The DOJ didn't comment specifically on how it will proceed with bringing Ick and Monn to the U.S. to face the charges. The department cooperates regularly with European authorities and has a number of options it can use.
Bayer itself earlier pleaded guilty to participating in the same conspiracy and received a $66 million criminal fine in the U.S.
Bayer's rubber chemicals business now operates as part of spinoff Lanxess GmbH.
The Justice Department's Antitrust Division's investigations of price-fixing of various rubber-related products have resulted in more than $200 million in criminal fines.
Over the past 18 months the division has obtained guilty pleas from five companies-Bayer, Syndial S.p.A., Crompton Corp., DuPont Dow Elastomers and Zeon Chemicals-and six executives.