The US Department of Justice announced that Parker ITR, an Italian subsidiary of U.S.-based Parker Hannifin agreed to plead guilty and to pay a $2.29 million criminal fine for participating in a conspiracy to rig bids, fix prices and allocate market shares of marine hose sold in the United States and elsewhere. According to the Justice Department's press release:
Under the terms of the plea agreement, which is subject to court approval, Parker ITR has agreed to pay a criminal fine and to cooperate fully in the Department’s ongoing antitrust investigation. Parker ITR is the fourth company to be charged in the investigation. To date, nine individuals have been convicted for their involvement in the marine hose conspiracy.
Marine hose is a flexible rubber hose used to transfer oil between tankers and storage facilities. The victims of this conspiracy included companies involved in the off-shore extraction and/or transportation of petroleum products, as well as the U.S. Department of Defense. During the conspiracy, the cartel affected prices for hundreds of millions of dollars worth of marine hose and related products sold worldwide.
This guilty plea follows several others by other participants in the conspiracy. Previously, Dunlop Oil & Marine Ltd. paid a fine of $4.5 million and Manuli Rubber Industries, Trelleborg and Bridgestone have been caught up in the matter as well.
I first heard about the marine hose price fixing scandal in 2007 from a friend at a tanker carrier who was looking into a suit against one or more of the perpetrators. While It is a truly interesting case and has embroiled several well known companies, it is hardly the stuff of the evening news or even the cable news channels. That got me thinking about the most notorious price fixing conspiracies (it didn't hurt that I just saw The Informant!) and I found this humorous look by mental_floss at some high profile price fixing conspiracies. The sheer chutzpah of these companies and individuals astounds me.