24 March 2003 00:00 [Source: ACN]Anti-trust investigators raided the offices of Rohm and Haas and 13 other companies in Japan, the US and the European Union in early February, following allegations of plastic-additives price fixing.
An investigation is under way. Kureha Chemical, the Japanese plastic-additives producer purchased by Rohm and Haas last year, is part of the investigation.
Commenting on the raids, the chairman and chief executive officer of Rohm and Haas, Raj Gupta, said he had 'absolute confidence in our integrity and ethics'.
He added that the investigation is the first occasion when different anti-trust authorities have co-operated globally. He said he has been given no indication as to how long the investigation might last.
A spokesman for Japan's Fair Trade Commission (JFTC) told ACN that the probe into suspected price-fixing by three Japanese companies - Kureha, Mitsubishi Rayon Co and Kaneka Corp - is continuing. He declined to give details of the investigation.
He said the probe could take six months to a year or more. If the JFTC concludes that there is only a 'simple' case of price-fixing, it would impose a surcharge of 6% of the sales of each company's product during the period when the cartel was in force.
If it decides that the cartel had 'criminal' intentions - to do irreparable damage to other firms, for example - the case is taken to court. And if the cartel is indicted, the spokesman said, the fine for each company in the cartel is a maximum of Yen500m (US$4.24m); the directors of the companies face up to three years in prison.
The JFTC, the spokesman explained, had raided the suspected companies, taken away relevant documents, and spoken to their employees. It is currently examining the documents and would announce its findings when its investigations are completed.
The three companies declined comment.
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