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UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
NORTHERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA
SAN FRANCISCO DIVISION
The United States of America and SOLVAY S.A. ("defendant"), a corporation organized and existing under the laws of Belgium, hereby enter into the following Plea Agreement pursuant to Rule 11(c)(1)(C) of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure ("Fed. R. Crim. P."):
RIGHTS OF DEFENDANT
1. The defendant understands its rights:
AGREEMENT TO PLEAD GUILTY
2. The defendant knowingly and voluntarily waives the rights set out in Paragraph 1(b)-(g) above, including all jurisdictional defenses to the prosecution of this case, and agrees voluntarily to consent to the jurisdiction of the United States to prosecute this case against it in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California. The defendant agrees to waive any venue objections it may have under 18 U.S.C. § 3237(a), or any other statute or rule of law, to the charges set forth in the Information. The defendant also knowingly and voluntarily waives the right to file any appeal, any collateral attack, or any other writ or motion, including but not limited to an appeal under 18 U.S.C. § 3742, that challenges the sentence imposed by the Court if that sentence is consistent with or below the recommended sentence in Paragraph 9 of this Plea Agreement, regardless of how the sentence is determined by the Court. This agreement does not affect the rights or obligations of the United States as set forth in 18 U.S.C. § 3742(b)-(c). Pursuant to Fed. R. Crim. P. 7(b), the defendant will waive indictment and plead guilty at arraignment to a two-count Information to be filed in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California. The Information will charge the defendant with one count of participating in a conspiracy to suppress and eliminate competition by fixing the price of hydrogen peroxide sold in the United States and elsewhere, beginning on or about July 1, 1998 and continuing until on or about December 1, 2001, in violation of the Sherman Antitrust Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1. Additionally, the Information will charge the defendant with a second count of participating in a conspiracy to suppress and eliminate competition by fixing the price of sodium perborates sold to Procter & Gamble, beginning on or about June 1, 2000 and continuing until on or about December 1, 2001, in violation of the Sherman Antitrust Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1.
3. The defendant, pursuant to the terms of this Plea Agreement, will plead guilty to the criminal charges described in Paragraph 2 above and will make a factual admission of guilt to the Court in accordance with Fed. R. Crim. P. 11, as set forth in Paragraphs 4 and 5 below.FACTUAL BASIS FOR COUNT ONE (HYDROGEN PEROXIDE)
4. Had this case gone to trial, the United States would have presented evidence sufficient to prove the following facts in support of Count One of the Information:
5. Had this case gone to trial, the United States would have presented evidence sufficient to prove the following facts in support of Count Two of the Information:
6. The defendant understands that the statutory maximum penalty which may be imposed against it upon conviction for each violation of Section One of the Sherman Antitrust Act is a fine in an amount equal to the greatest of:
7. In addition, the defendant understands that:
8. The defendant understands that the Sentencing Guidelines are advisory, not mandatory, but that the Court must consider the Guidelines in effect on the day of sentencing, along with the other factors set forth in 18 U.S.C. § 3553(a), in determining and imposing sentence, unless, the Court, as authorized by U.S.S.G. § 1B1.11, determines that use of the Sentencing Guidelines in effect on the date that the defendant is sentenced would violate the ex post facto clause of the United States Constitution. If the Court makes such a determination, the court shall use the Sentencing Guidelines in effect as of December 1, 2001, the last date that the offense of conviction was committed. The defendant understands that the Guidelines determinations will be made by the Court by a preponderance of the evidence standard. The defendant understands that although the Court is not ultimately bound to impose a sentence within the applicable Guidelines range, its sentence must be reasonable based upon consideration of all relevant sentencing factors set forth in 18 U.S.C. § 3553(a). Pursuant to U.S.S.G. §1B1.8, the United States agrees that self-incriminating information that the defendant provides to the United States pursuant to this Plea Agreement will notbe used to increase the volume of affected commerce attributable to the defendant or in determining the defendant's applicable Guidelines range, except to the extent provided in U.S.S.G. §1B1.8(b).
9. Pursuant to Fed. R. Crim. P. 11(c)(1)(C), the United States and the defendant agree that the appropriate dispositions of Counts One and Two are, and agree to recommend jointly that the Court impose, the following: A sentence requiring the defendant to pay to the United States a criminal fine of $40.87 million, pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 3571(d), payable in full before the fifteenth (15th) day after the date of judgment ("the recommended sentence"). The parties agree that there exists no aggravating or mitigating circumstance of a kind, or to a degree, not adequately taken into consideration by the U.S. Sentencing Commission in formulating the Sentencing Guidelines justifying a departure pursuant to U.S.S.G. §5K2.0. The parties agree not to seek or support any sentence other than the recommended sentence, nor any Guidelines adjustment for any reason that is not set forth in this Plea Agreement. The parties further agree that the recommended sentence set forth in this Plea Agreement is reasonable.
10. The United States and the defendant agree that the applicable Guidelines fine range exceeds the fine contained in the recommended sentence set out in Paragraph 9 above. Subject to the full and continuing cooperation of the defendant, as described in Paragraph 14 of this Plea Agreement, and prior to sentencing in this case, the United States agrees that it will make a motion, pursuant to U.S.S.G. §8C4.1, for a downward departure from the Guidelines fine range and will request that the Court impose the recommended sentence set out in Paragraph 9 of this Plea Agreement because of the defendant's substantial assistance in the government's investigation and prosecution of violations of federal criminal law in the hydrogen peroxide industry.
11. Subject to the ongoing, full, and truthful cooperation of the defendant described in Paragraph 14 of this Plea Agreement, and before sentencing in the case, the United States will fully advise the Court and the Probation Office as to: (i) the fact, manner, and extent of the defendant's cooperation and its commitment to prospective cooperation with the United States' investigation and prosecutions; (ii) all material facts relating to the defendant's involvement in the charged offenses; and (iii) all other relevant conduct.
12. The United States and the defendant understand that the Court retains complete discretion to accept or reject the recommended sentence provided for in Paragraph 9 of this Plea Agreement.
13. In light of the civil class action cases filed against the defendant, which potentially provide for a recovery of a multiple of actual damages, the United States agrees that it will not seek a restitution order for the offenses charged in the Information.DEFENDANT'S COOPERATION
14. The defendant and its subsidiaries that are engaged in the sale or production of hydrogen peroxide and sodium perborates (collectively, "related entities") will cooperate fully and truthfully with the United States in the prosecution of this case, the conduct of the current federal investigations of violations of federal antitrust and related criminal laws involving the manufacture or sale of hydrogen peroxide and sodium perborates, any other federal investigation resulting therefrom, and any litigation or other proceedings arising or resulting from any such investigation to which the United States is a party ("federal proceeding"). The ongoing, full, and truthful cooperation of the defendant shall include, but not be limited to:
15. The ongoing, full, and truthful cooperation of each person described in Paragraph 14(b) above will be subject to the procedures and protections of this paragraph, and shall include, but not be limited to:
16. Upon acceptance of the guilty plea called for by this Plea Agreement and the imposition of the recommended sentence, and subject to the cooperation requirements of Paragraph 14 of this Plea Agreement, the United States agrees that it will not bring further criminal charges against the defendant or any of its related entities for any act or offense committed before the date of this Plea Agreement that was undertaken in furtherance of an antitrust conspiracy involving the manufacture or sale of hydrogen peroxide or sodium perborates. The nonprosecution terms of this paragraph do not apply to civil matters of any kind, to any violation of the federal tax or securities laws, or to any crime of violence.
17. The United States agrees to the following:
18. The United States agrees that when any person travels to the United States for interviews, grand jury appearances, or court appearances pursuant to this Plea Agreement, or for meetings with counsel in preparation therefor, the United States will take no action, based upon any relevant offense, to subject such person to arrest, detention, or service of process, or to prevent such person from departing the United States. This paragraph does not apply to an individual's commission of perjury (18 U.S.C. § 1621), making false statements (18 U.S.C. § 1001), making false statements or declarations in grand jury or court proceedings (18 U.S.C. § 1623), obstruction of justice (18 U.S.C. § 1503), or contempt (18 U.S.C. §§ 401-402) in connection with any testimony or information provided or requested in any federal proceeding.
19. The defendant understands that it may be subject to administrative action by federal or state agencies other than the United States Department of Justice, Antitrust Division, based upon the conviction resulting from this Plea Agreement, and that this Plea Agreement in no way controls whatever action, if any, other agencies may take. However, the United States agrees that, if requested, it will advise the appropriate officials of any governmental agency considering such administrative action of the fact, manner, and extent of the cooperation of the defendant and its related entities, including the fact that the United States, pursuant to U.S.S.G. §8C4.1, moved for a downward departure from the applicable Sentencing Guidelines range, based on the defendant's substantial assistance to the United States, as a matter for that agency to consider before determining what administrative action, if any, to take.REPRESENTATION BY COUNSEL
20. The defendant has been represented by counsel and is fully satisfied that its attorneys have provided competent legal representation. The defendant has thoroughly reviewed this Plea Agreement and acknowledges that counsel has advised it of the nature of the charge, any possible defenses to the charge, and the nature and range of possible sentences.
21. The defendant's decision to enter into this Plea Agreement and to tender a plea of guilty is freely and voluntarily made and is not the result of force, threats, assurances, promises, or representations other than the representations contained in this Plea Agreement. The United States has made no promises or representations to the defendant as to whether the Court will accept or reject the recommendations contained within this Plea Agreement.VIOLATION OF PLEA AGREEMENT
22. The defendant agrees that, should the United States determine in good faith, during the period that any federal proceeding is pending, that the defendant or any of its related entities have failed to provide full and truthful cooperation, as described in Paragraph 14 of this Plea Agreement, or has otherwise violated any provision of this Plea Agreement, the United States will notify counsel for the defendant in writing by personal or overnight delivery or facsimile transmission and may also notify counsel by telephone of its intention to void any of its obligations under this Plea Agreement (except its obligations under this paragraph), and the defendant and its related entities shall be subject to prosecution for any federal crime of which the United States has knowledge including, but not limited to, the substantive offenses relating to the investigation resulting in this Plea Agreement. The defendant may seek Court review of any determination made by the United States under this Paragraph to void any of its obligations under the Plea Agreement. The defendant and its related entities agree that, in the event that the United States is released from its obligations under this Plea Agreement and brings criminal charges against the defendant or its related entities for any offense referred to in Paragraph 16 of this Plea Agreement, the statute of limitations period for such offense will be tolled for the period between the date of the signing of this Plea Agreement and six (6) months after the date the United States gave notice of its intent to void its obligations under this Plea Agreement.
23. The defendant understands and agrees that in any further prosecution of it or its related entities resulting from the release of the United States from its obligations under this Plea Agreement, because of the defendant's or its related entities' violation of the Plea Agreement, any documents, statements, information, testimony, or evidence provided by it, its related entities, or current or former directors, officers, or employees of it or its related entities to attorneys or agents of the United States, federal grand juries, or courts, and any leads derived therefrom, may be used against it or its related entities in any such further prosecution. In addition, the defendant unconditionally waives its right to challenge the use of such evidence in any such further prosecution, notwithstanding the protections of Fed. R. Evid. 410.ENTIRETY OF AGREEMENT
24. This Plea Agreement constitutes the entire agreement between the United States and the defendant concerning the disposition of the criminal charges in this case. This Plea Agreement cannot be modified except in writing, signed by the United States and the defendant.
25. The undersigned is authorized to enter this Plea Agreement on behalf of the defendant as evidenced by the Grant of Power of Attorney authorized by the Board of Directors of the defendant attached to, and incorporated by reference in, this Plea Agreement.
26. The undersigned attorneys for the United States have been authorized by the Attorney General of the United States to enter this Plea Agreement on behalf of the United States.
27. A facsimile signature shall be deemed an original signature for the purpose of executing this Plea Agreement. Multiple signature pages are authorized for the purpose of executing this Plea Agreement.
DATED:______March 9, 2006___________