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From the THE AGRIBUSINESS EXAMINER #3, September 17, 1998


Michael Andreas, 49, on leave as executive vice president of ADM; Terrance Wilson, 60, retired head of ADM's corn-processing unit; and former ADM biochemist Mark Whitacre, 41 have been convicted by a Chicago federal jury of conspiring with competitors to fix the price of the feed additive lysine.

They face a maximum three-year prison sentence and at least a $350,000 fine.

"This was a crime of greed -- a crime by an extremely large corporation that wanted to make even more money at the expense of their customers," U.S. Attorney Scott Lassar told the Associated Press.

After hearing six weeks of testimony, the U.S. District Court jury deliberated four days before returning the guilty verdicts. Andreas is the son of Dwayne O. Andreas, the long-time "friend" of the politically powerful and chairman and founder of ADM, "Supermarkup to the World," headquartered in Decatur, Illinois. In 1995, the company itself pleaded guilty to price-fixing involving lysine and another substance, citric acid. It paid a $100 million fine, the largest in U.S. history.

Michael Andreas' attorney, John Bray, throughout the trial continually reminded the jury that it is legal for competitors to exchange information about prices and quantities. In his closing arguments, Bray showed the jury several snippets of tape transcripts, culled from over 200 hours of audio and video tape, in which Andreas repeatedly said ADM "doesn't make deals."The rest of the conversations with competitors, Bray said, were a lot of "bluster and bluffing."

Nice try, Mr. Bray!

Lassar, his staff and prosecutors from the U.S. Justice Department using the tapes and documents from ADM and competitors, particularly the Tokyo-based Ajinomoto Co. Inc., contended that the three ADM executives used the same model that an ADM employee testified had been designed to fix prices for citric acid -- a model he said was masterminded by Wilson.

Lassar showed the jury video tape, notes and charts that he said proved that ADM agreed that it would have a 27% share of the world's $600 million lysine market in 1994 -- a target that he says the company hit within tenths of a percentage point.

Reed Weingarten, Wilson's lawyer told the jury that his client met with competitors in order to get information from a tight-knit "Asian cartel" (as opposed to the "American cartel"?) that had controlled the lysine market for years. He said Wilson may have offered information about prices and production and sales volumes, but said that on purpose much of that information was incorrect.

"This is not Business Ethics 101. This is how you deal in the real world," Weingarten said. "That's how Dwayne Andreas told Terry Wilson to do business.":