Cartel Digest

Nucleotides

Nucleotides
  Overall Cartel Period 1988-1998
  Participants Ajinomoto Co., Inc.; Takeda Chemical Industries Ltd.; Daesang Corp.; Daesang Japan Inc.; Cheil Jedang Corp.
  Total Fines (DOJ) $9.1 million
  Total Fines (EC) €20.5 million

In 1999, regulators from the U.S. Department of Justice (“DOJ”) and the European Commission (“EC”) began investigating manufacturers of nucleotides.  Nucleotides are organic compounds used to enhance flavor in soups, sauces, spices and other foods.  United States regulators found that from July 1992 to August 1996, cartel members agreed to fix prices, allocate customers and enforce adherence to these agreements among cartel members in the United States and abroad.  The EC found that cartel activity occurred during a longer period, from November 1988 to June 1998.

 

Enforcement Highlights:

  • Three companies entered into plea agreements with the DOJ, resulting in fines totaling over $9 million.
  • The EC imposed fines of over €20 million on cartel members.
  • A fourth company was granted full immunity by the EC for its submission  of decisive evidence of cartel activity to the EC before investigations had begun.
  • The Federal Court of Canada imposed a combined fine totaling over $1.5 million CAD on two companies. 
Company Conspiracy Period Fine (USD) Plea Date No. of Excluded Individuals Plea Agreement
Ajinomoto Co. Inc. 7/92-8/96 $6 million 08/27/2001 N/A  
Daesang Japan Inc. 7/92-8/96 $3 million 08/27/2001 N/A  
Cheil Jedang Corporation 7/92-8/96 $100,000 08/27/2001 N/A  
Canada
Company Fine Date
Ajinomoto Co. Inc. $ 1.5 million 08/30/2005
CJ Corp. $ 170,000 08/30/2005
Europe
Company Fine Date
Ajinomoto Co. Inc. € 15.5 million 12/17/2002
Takeda Chemical Industries Ltd. Immunity 12/17/2002
Daesang Corp. € 2.3 million 12/17/2002
Cheil Jedang Corporation € 2.7 million 12/17/2002