Posted by : Matthew Wild | On : April 22, 2008

The Antitrust Division (Criminal Section) has been busy lately. On April 19, the Criminal Section obtained plea agreements in two separate investigations. Today, the Criminal Section announced the unsealing of an indictment in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California. The indictment alleges that defendants agreed to have one company withdraw from bidding to supply TACOM night vision goggles to a military procurement unit for Iraq. The indictment charges wire fraud, conspiracy to commit wire fraud and money laundering. Notably absent is a charge for violating Section 1 of the Sherman Act. The failure to charge such an offense usually indicates that no actual bid was rigged. The March 15, 2008 Post discusses the Criminal Section’s spotty trial record over the last year.



Posted by : Matthew Wild | On : April 18, 2008

Today, an Italian executive agreed to plead guilty for his involvement in the Marine Hose Cartel. His plea agreement includes incarceration of one year and one day and a $20,000 fine. In addition, a Long Island defense contractor agreed to plead guilty to bid rigging and a conspiracy to commit wire fraud for his participation in a conspiracy to rig bids on Navy contracts for straps which are used to secure munitions. His sentence was left entirely to the Court’s discretion. Most criminal cases brought by the Antitrust Divisions are resolved by plea agreements. As discussed in the March 15, 2008 Post, the trial record of the Criminal Section (Antitrust Division) has been spotty. It has lost three trials within the last year.



Posted by : Matthew Wild | On : March 15, 2008

In March 2008, the Antitrust division (Criminal Section) lost two price-fixing cases. On March 7, 2008, after an 11-day trial, Judge Phyllis Hamilton of the United States District Court for the Northern District of California declared a mistrial in United States v. Swanson because of a hung jury (which voted 10-2 for acquittal). The Antitrust Division has decided not to re-try Swanson. Charles Swanson, a former U.S. executive of Hynix Semiconductor, was the only defendant to go to trial in the cartel prosecutions of DRAM manufacturers. Four corporations (Samsung, Hynix, Infineon and Elpida Memory) and 16 individuals pleaded guilty. Fines exceeded $730 million and individual prison sentences ranged from 3 to 10 months. John Barthko of Barthko Zankel Tarrant & Miller represented Swanson. On March 12, 2008, the U.K. House of Lords declined to extradite Ian Norris, the former CEO of Morgan Crucible who the Antitrust Division (Criminal Section) had indicted for price-fixing in connection with electrical carbon cartel. Price-fixing was not a crime in the U.K. at the time that Norris was indicted and, therefore, Norris was not subject to extradition for the offense. To avoid that obstacle, the Antitrust Division also charged Norris with obstruction of justice and sought his extradition on that charge. Norris is subject to further proceedings and potential extradition on the obstruction charge. He was represented by Lawrence Byrne (Linklaters LLP) in the United States and Alistair Graham (White & Case LLP) in the U.K. This is the fourth recent blow to the Antitrust Division’s Criminal Section. On November 30, 2007, the United States District Court for the District of Delaware dismissed a price-fixing indictment against Stolt-Nielsen holding that the Antitrust Division breached its amnesty agreement. See United States v. Stolt-Nielsen S.A., 524 F. Supp. 2d 609 (E.D. Penn 2007). Solt was represented by Mark Gidley and Chris Curran (White & Case LLP). On July 19, 2007, Stora Enso North America was acquitted of price-fixing in the United States District Court for the District of Connecticut. The jury returned its verdict in less than two hours.



Posted by : Matthew Wild | On : February 22, 2008

February 22, 2008.  Two former Marsh executives (William Gilman and Edward McNenney) were convicted after a 10-month bench trial of bid rigging in violation of New York’s Donnolly Act.  They were acquitted of grand larceny and engaging in schemes to defraud.  These charges stem from Marsh’s scheme of steering business to insurers who paid Marsh the highest contingent commissions.  The case was brought by the New York State Attorney General in New York State Supreme Court, New York County.  In addition to agreeing to refrain from such conduct in the future, Marsh had paid $850 million to settle with the New York Attorney General.  Another executive pleaded guilty to engaging in a scheme to defraud in 2005.