Washington DC - Â A federal grand jury in Fort Lauderdale, Florida has charged two individuals with participating in a conspiracy to rig bids, fix prices and allocate market shares for sales of marine hose used to transport oil, the Department of Justice has announced.
Francesco Scaglia and Val Northcutt have been charged with participating in a conspiracy to suppress and eliminate competition by rigging bids, fixing prices, and allocating market shares for sales of marine hose in the United States and elsewhere.
At the time of his arrest, Scaglia was a product manager at Manuli Rubber Industries SpA in Italy. Manuli has operations in Broward County, Florida, where Northcutt was an employee. Scaglia and seven other individuals were arrested in Houston and San Francisco on May 2, 2007 and charged by criminal complaint with participating in the conspiracy.
The bid rigging, price fixing and market share allocation charge, a violation of the Sherman Act, carries a maximum penalty of 10 years imprisonment and a $1 million fine for individuals.
The indictment charges that the conspiracy began at least as early as 1999 and continued until as late as May 2007. Scaglia is charged with participating in the conspiracy from at least as early as fall 2000 until as late as May 2007. Northcutt is charged with participating in the conspiracy from at least as early as 2000 until as late as May 2007.
Marine hose is a flexible rubber hose used to transfer oil between tankers and storage facilities and buoys. During the conspiracy, the conspiracy participants sold hundreds of millions of dollars worth of marine hose and related products. The victims of this conspiracy included companies involved in the off-shore extraction and/or transportation of petroleum products and the US Department of Defense.
"The defendants are charged with participating in a highly sophisticated scheme designed to rob their customers of honest competition," said Scott Hammond, Deputy Assistant Attorney General in charge of the Antitrust Division's Criminal Enforcement Programme. "For example, the indictment alleges the use of secret code names and private e-mail accounts, and the assistance of an outside consultant paid by the members of the cartel, to conceal and carry out the conspiracy."