US Price Fixing Laws Gain a Long Arm
On April 4, 2014, the United States Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division (DOJ) announced the first successful extradition in a price fixing and market rigging case. A German appeals court had approved the extradition of Romano Pisciotti, an Italian national, in February 2014. Germany’s Constitution generally protects German citizens from extradition. However, it offers no such protection for noncitizens arrested in Germany.
Psciotti, was in charge of Parker ITR’s marine hose business from 1985 to 2006. Pisciotti is accused of participating in a global bid-rigging conspiracy among manufacturers of marine hoses — flexible rubber hoses used to transfer oil between tankers and storage facilities.
The corporation, ITR, plead guilty to bid-rigging, price-fixing and market allocation in the marine hose industry from 1999 to May 2007. Four other major marine hose manufacturers, including Bridgestone and Dunlap Marine and Oil, and nine individuals have also plead guilty.
DOJ reserved the right to prosecute Pisciotti. At DOJ’s request, Pisciotti was subject to an Interpol Red Notice “warrant.” In June 2013, Pisciotti was arrested in Germany while in transit from Nigeria to his native Italy.
Extradition typically requires “dual criminality,” meaning that the offense must violate both countries’ laws. Bid rigging is a criminal violation under both German and U.S. law.
Pisciotti’s extradition is the product of decades of DOJ efforts to get other countries to aid in the prosecution of both corporations and individuals for violations of U.S. antitrust law. Now more than 30 jurisdictions impose criminal liability for antitrust type conduct, including Australia, Brazil, Canada, Germany, Israel, Japan, Korea, Mexico, the United Kingdom and Russia. Nonetheless, until Pisciotti, DOJ had not been able to extradite a foreign national on antitrust charges.
Pisciotti challenged his extradition in various forums in Europe. He is now in the United States, and his extradition should serve as a warning, for those who operate in multinational markets. In the past, it was fairly common for foreign nationals who faced charges in the United States to leave the US, not return and to refuse to submit to U.S. jurisdiction , thus avoiding trial and conviction in the U.S. courts.
The oil and gas and petrochemical industries in Louisiana are in reality, multinational commercial activities and what seems like “good business” in the Gulf, can have implications far beyond what was intended between the parties.
If you are accused of price fixing in whatever industry you are in, it is important to seek knowledgeable legal advice quickly.
The Law Firm of Regan Law, P.L.C.. has extensive experience in the field of white collar crime. If you have received a target letter from the Department of Justice, or if you feel you might be the subject of an investigation please call an experienced attorney. Under the leadership of Attorney Martin E. Regan, Jr., can help you navigate the often difficult legal field.
Call us, we can help!
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