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 the world markets for organic peroxides, according to the U.S. Justice Department.
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 United States and elsewhere from August 1997 until March 1998.
Organic peroxides are used in the production of numerous rubbers and plastics and the manufacture of PVC, 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 AG, operated independently at the time of its criminal offense under the name Laporte plc.
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 anti-competitive behavior in the organic peroxides industry.
Degussa U.K. Holdings is the second company to agree to plead guilty to participating in this conspiracy. 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.