WASHINGTON (Oct. 4)--Degussa U.K. Holdings Ltd. has agreed to plead guilty and pay a $1.5 million fine for participating in a criminal conspiracy that suppressed competition in world markets for organic peroxides, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.
Degussa U.K. Holdings was charged in U.S. District Court in San Francisco with one count of conspiring to fix the prices of organic peroxides, specifically t-butyl perbenzoate and t-butyl peracetate, sold in the U.S. and elsewhere from August 1997 until March 1998.
Organic peroxides are used in the production of numerous plastics and rubbers and the manufacture of polyvinyl chloride, high and low-density polyethylene, polypropylene and most polystyrene products such as containers and packaging.
Degussa U.K. Holdings, which is now a subsidiary of German chemical giant Degussa A.G., operated independently at the time of its criminal offense under the name Laporte P.L.C. Under the terms of the plea agreement, which must be approved by the court, Degussa has agreed to cooperate fully with the ongoing federal investigation of anticompetitive behavior in the organic peroxides industry.
Degussa U.K. Holdings is the second company to agree to plead guilty to participating in this scheme. In March 2002, the French chemical company Elf Atochem pleaded guilty and was sentenced to pay a $3.5 million fine for its involvement in the same conspiracy.