Lysine-Price Fixing,0288CHICAGO (AP) - A Japanese company pleaded guilty Thursday to charges it colluded with Archer Daniels Midland Co. and others to fix the price of the livestock feed supplement lysine.
The company, Ajinomoto Co., agreed to pay a $10 million fine and to cooperate with the government's ongoing investigation.
U.S. District Judge Ruben Castillo, who accepted the plea, four weeks ago rejected the company's attempt to settle the case with a no-contest plea after federal prosecutors revealed that Ajinomoto destroyed some documents bearing on the investigation.
Last month, two other Asian companies and ADM pleaded guilty to conspiring to fix prices and divide up worldwide sales in the $600 million lysine market. The amino acid is used to foster growth in swine and poultry.
ADM agreed at the time to pay a $100 million fine, a record high anti-trust penalty. Kyowa Hakko of Japan was fined $10 million, while a fine has yet to be set for Sewon America Inc., a subsidiary of Sewon Company Ltd. of South Korea.
The top executives in the three Asian companies also have agreed to plead guilty and pay fines ranging from $50,000 to $75,000. They are scheduled to appear before Castillo on Jan. 14.
Prosecutors have told two top ADM executives they face criminal indictments in the lysine case. The two are ADM vice president Michael Andreas, the son of ADM chairman Dwayne Andreas, and Terrence Wilson, head of the company's corn processing division. Michael Andreas has taken a leave of absence from the company, and Wilson is retiring, citing medical reasons.
Copyright 1996 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.