Cartel Digest

Fax Paper

Fax Paper
  Overall Cartel Period 1991-1992
  Participants Mitsubishi Paper Mills Ltd.; New Oji Paper Co., Ltd.; Kanzaki Specialty Papers; Mitsubishi International Corp.; Mitsubishi Corp.; Elof Hansson Paper & Board Inc.; Honshu Paper Co.
  Total Fines (DOJ) $6.7 million
  Total Fines (EC) No fines imposed

The U.S. Department of Justice (“DOJ”) and Canadian Competition Bureau (“CCB”) launched an investigation into the thermal fax paper industry and uncovered the existence of a price-fixing conspiracy between 1991 and 1992. Through a series of meetings and telephone conversations, Japanese manufacturers of the product and their American subsidiaries manipulated prices to effect a 10% price increase in the then $120 million a year industry.  Thermal fax paper’s main consumers, small businesses and home fax machine owners, depend on low prices for office products, and then Attorney General Janet Reno made clear that “[f]oreign firms that want to do business in the U.S. must take our antitrust laws seriously” when she announced the imposition of fines.

 

Enforcement Highlights

  • The investigation was the first joint anti-cartel enforcement between the DOJ and the CCB.
  • The DOJ imposed fines totaling more than $6.5 million.
  • The CCB imposed fines totaling more than $3 million CAD. 
Company Conspiracy Period Fine (USD) Plea Date No. of Excluded Individuals Plea Agreement
Mitsubishi Paper Mills Ltd. 1/91-1/92 $1.8 million 09/26/1995 N/A  
New Oji Paper Co., Ltd. 1/91-1/92 $1.8 million 09/26/1995 N/A  
Kanzaki Specialty Papers Inc. 1/91-1/92 $4.5 million 07/14/1994 N/A  
Mitsubishi International Corp. 1/91-1/92 $500,000 07/14/1994 N/A  
Mitsubishi Corporation 1/91-1/92 $1.3 million 07/14/1994 N/A  
Elof Hansson Paper & Board Inc. 1/91-1/92 $200,000 01/01/1995 N/A  
Honshu Paper Co. 1/91-1/92 $200,000 04/26/1996 N/A  
Individual Company Prison Sentence Fine (USD) Plea Date Plea Agreement
Kazuhiko Watanabe, President Kanzaki Specialty Papers None $165,000 07/14/1994  
Canada
Company Fine Date
Kanzaki Specialty Papers Inc. $ 950,000 07/12/1994
Rittenhouse Ribbons & Rolls Ltd. $ 100,000 12/18/1995
New Oji Paper Co., Ltd. $ 600,000 07/16/1996
Mitsubishi Paper Mills Ltd. $ 850,000 02/17/1997
Mitsubishi Canada Limited $ 80,000 08/05/1994
Mitsubishi Corporation $ 880,000 08/05/1994