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MARC SIEGEL (CSBN 142071)
LISA V. TENORIO (CSBN 205955)
KESLIE STEWART (CSBN 184090)
DANA R. WAGNER (CSBN 209099)
DINA WONG (CSBN 202878)
U.S. Department of Justice
Antitrust Division
450 Golden Gate Avenue
Box 36046, Room 10-0101
San Francisco, CA 94102
Telephone: (415) 436-6660

Attorneys for the United States



Original Filed March 14, 2002
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT

NORTHERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA



UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,    



                  v.

ELF ATOCHEM S.A.,

                  Defendant.


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No. CR 02 - 0079SI

INFORMATION

VIOLATIONS:
Title 15, United States Code,
Section 1 (Price Fixing, Market-
Share Allocation)

San Francisco Venue



The United States of America, acting through its attorneys, charges:

COUNT ONE

1. ELF ATOCHEM S.A. ("ELF") is made a defendant on the charge stated below.

I.

DESCRIPTION OF THE OFFENSE

2. Beginning in or about September 1995 and continuing until in or about August 1999, defendant ELF and its coconspirators entered into and engaged in a combination and conspiracy to suppress and eliminate competition by fixing the prices and allocating the market shares of monochloroacetic acid and sodium monochloroacetate (collectively referred to as "MCAA") to be sold in the United States and elsewhere. The combination and conspiracy engaged in by the defendant and its coconspirators was in unreasonable restraint of interstate and foreign trade and commerce in violation of Section 1 of the Sherman Act (15 U.S.C. § 1).

3. The charged combination and conspiracy consisted of a continuing agreement, understanding, and concert of action among the defendant and its coconspirators, the substantial terms of which were:

  1. to agree to fix and maintain prices and to coordinate price increases for MCAA to be sold in the United States and elsewhere; and

  2. to agree to allocate among major MCAA producers the market shares of MCAA to be sold by each in the United States and elsewhere.

4. For the purpose of forming and carrying out the charged combination and conspiracy, the defendant and its coconspirators did those things that they combined and conspired to do, including, among other things:

  1. participating in meetings and conversations to discuss the prices and market shares of MCAA to be sold in the United States and elsewhere;

  2. agreeing, during those meetings and conversations, to charge prices at certain levels and otherwise to increase and maintain prices of MCAA to be sold in the United States and elsewhere;

  3. agreeing, during those meetings and conversations, to allocate among major producers of MCAA the market shares of MCAA to be sold in the United States and elsewhere;

  4. issuing price announcements and price quotations in accordance with the agreements reached; and

  5. exchanging information on sales of MCAA in the United States and elsewhere for the purpose of monitoring and enforcing adherence to the agreed-upon market shares.

II.

DEFENDANT AND COCONSPIRATORS

5. ELF is a corporation organized and existing under the laws of France. During the period covered by this Count, ELF was engaged in the business of producing MCAA and selling it to customers in the United States and elsewhere.

6. Various corporations and individuals, not made defendants in this Count, participated as coconspirators in the offense charged in this Count and performed acts and made statements in furtherance of it.

7. Whenever in this Count reference is made to any act, deed, or transaction of any corporation, the allegation means that the corporation engaged in the act, deed, or transaction by or through its officers, directors, employees, agents, or other representatives while they were actively engaged in the management, direction, control, or transaction of its business or affairs.

III.

TRADE AND COMMERCE

8. MCAA is a reactive chemical compound that is used to form a number of intermediate chemicals. Markets for MCAA and its derivatives include drilling fluids, plastic stabilizers, herbicides, and pharmaceuticals.

9. During the period covered by this Count, the defendant and its coconspirators sold and distributed MCAA in a continuous and uninterrupted flow of interstate and foreign trade and commerce to customers located in states or countries other than the states or countries in which the defendant and its coconspirators produced MCAA.

10. The business activities of the defendant and its coconspirators that are the subject of this Count were within the flow of, and substantially affected, interstate and foreign trade and commerce.

IV.

JURISDICTION

11. The combination and conspiracy charged in this Count was carried out within the five years preceding the filing of this Information.

COUNT TWO

12. Each and every allegation contained in Paragraphs 1, 6, 7, 10, and 11 is realleged and incorporated by reference as if fully set forth herein.

V.

DESCRIPTION OF THE OFFENSE

13. Beginning in or about August 1997 and continuing until in or about March 1998, defendant ELF and its coconspirators entered into and engaged in a combination and conspiracy to suppress and eliminate competition by fixing the prices of certain organic peroxides, specifically t-butyl perbenzoate and t-butyl peracetate dedicated to stryrene polymerization (ELF brands Luperox P and Luperox 7M50) ("the Specified OP Products") to be sold in the United States and elsewhere. The combination and conspiracy engaged in by the defendant and its coconspirators was in unreasonable restraint of interstate and foreign trade and commerce in violation of Section 1 of the Sherman Act (15 U.S.C. § 1).

14. The charged combination and conspiracy consisted of a continuing agreement, understanding, and concert of action among the defendant and its coconspirators, the substantial terms of which were to agree to fix and maintain prices and to coordinate price increases for the Specified OP Products to be sold in the United States and elsewhere.

15. For the purpose of forming and carrying out the charged combination and conspiracy, the defendant and its coconspirators did those things that they combined and conspired to do, including, among other things:

  1. participating in conversations to discuss the prices of the Specified OP Products to be sold in the United States and elsewhere;

  2. agreeing, during those conversations, to charge prices at certain levels and otherwise to increase and maintain prices of the Specified OP Products to be sold in the United States and elsewhere; and

  3. issuing price announcements and price quotations in accordance with the agreement reached.

VI.

DEFENDANT AND COCONSPIRATORS

16. ELF is a corporation organized and existing under the laws of France. During the period covered by this Count, ELF, through its affiliates, was engaged in the business of producing the Specified OP Products and selling them to customers in the United States and elsewhere.

VII.

TRADE AND COMMERCE

17. The Specified OP Products are essential chemical inputs used in the manufacture of certain polysytrene products, such as containers and packaging.

18. During the period covered by this Count, the defendant and its coconspirators sold and distributed the Specified OP Products in a continuous and uninterrupted flow of interstate and foreign trade and commerce to customers located in states or countries other than the states or countries in which the defendant and its coconspirators produced the Specified OP Products.

ALL IN VIOLATION OF TITLE 15, UNITED STATES CODE, SECTION 1.

Dated:

_______________/s/________________
Charles A. James
Assistant Attorney General

_______________/s/________________
James M. Griffin
Deputy Assistant Attorney General

_______________/s/________________
Scott D. Hammond
Director of Criminal Enforcement







United States Department of Justice
Antitrust Division



_______________/s/________________
David W. Shapiro
United States Attorney
Northern District of California

_______________/s/________________
Christopher S Crook
Chief, San Francisco Office

_______________/s/________________
Marc Siegel
Lisa V. Tenorio
Keslie Stewart
Dana R. Wagner
Dina Wong

Attorneys
U.S. Department of Justice
Antitrust Division
450 Golden Gate Ave.
Box 36046, Room 10-0101
San Francisco, CA 94102
(415) 436-6660