Nov 23, 2004

Ex-Bayer Exec to Plead to Price-Fixing

WASHINGTON - A former executive with Germany's Bayer AG has agreed to plead guilty to price-fixing as part of an antitrust probe into the rubber chemicals market, the Justice Department said on Tuesday. Martin Petersen, former head of marketing and sales for Bayer's rubber business group, has also agreed to assist investigators in the ongoing rubber chemicals investigation, the department said.

Bayer agreed to plead guilty in July in connection with the same conspiracy and pay a $66 million fine. The antitrust investigation is one of several in which the company has been embroiled this year.

U.S.-based Crompton Corp. pleaded guilty in March to participating in the same rubber chemicals conspiracy and was sentenced to pay a $50 million criminal fine for its role in the conspiracy. In September, Joseph Eisenberg and James Conway, both former Crompton executives, were charged in the same conspiracy and are now awaiting sentencing.

The chemicals at issue are additives used to improve the elasticity, strength, and durability of rubber products, such as tires, outdoor furniture, hoses, belts, and footwear, the department said. About $1 billion of rubber chemicals are sold annually in the United States.