- The Washington Times - Friday, August 24, 2001

A federal grand jury in Dallas yesterday indicted a Japanese businessman for participating in a worldwide conspiracy to fix the prices of and allocate customers of nucleotides, a food flavor enhancer, the Justice Department announced.
The indictment, filed today in U.S. District Court in Dallas, charged Tamon Tanabe, an executive at Ajinomoto Co. Inc., of conspiring with Ajinomoto's competitors to fix the prices and allocate customers of nucleotides sold in the United States and elsewhere from 1994 until 1996.
Nucleotides are organic compounds used in the food flavor enhancement industry and are found in soups, sauces, spices and other foods.
"Today's case reflects the Antitrust Division's resolve to proceed aggressively against individuals who engage in international cartel activity that harms American businesses and consumers," said Assistant Attorney General Charles A. James, who heads the department's antitrust division.
According to the indictment, Mr. Tanabe and others carried out the conspiracy by agreeing to raise and fix prices for nucleotides, agreeing to allocate customers of nucleotides, and participating in meetings and conversations to monitor and enforce adherence to the agreed-upon prices, the timing of price increases and the allocation of customers.
Justice Department spokeswoman Gina Talamona said Mr. Tanabe is charged with violating the Sherman Antitrust Act, which carries a maximum fine of $350,000 and three years imprisonment.
She said the fine can be increased to twice the gain derived from the crime or twice the loss suffered by the victims of the crime, if either of those amounts is greater than the statutory maximum fine.


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