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De Beers diamond price-fixing guilty plea

Date Class
10th Jul 2004 Questionable Business Practice
De Beers has agreed to plead guilty in a decade-long price-fixing case in a move that could allow the world's biggest diamond producer to return to the U.S. market after a nearly 50-year absence, a news report said Saturday.

The South African-based company is expected to plead guilty Tuesday in federal court in Columbus, Ohio to settle criminal charges that it violated federal antitrust laws by fixing the price for industrial diamonds.

The company faces a maximum fine of $10 million.

The settlement agreement, following months of negotiations, will allow the 124-year-old company to re-enter the United States, the world's most lucrative market for diamonds, the report said.

The case against De Beers, based in Johannesburg, was filed in 1994 after a three-year federal investigation, according to the newspaper.

De Beers was charged with violating the Sherman Antitrust Act by fixing the price of industrial diamonds.

The company's desire to expand into new markets, particularly the United States, as well as changes in the diamond business eventually prompted De Beers to negotiate the settlement.




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