Argos, a unit of Grupo Argos, has admitted to conspiring to fix prices, rig bids and allocate markets for sales of ready-mix concrete, and agreed to pay $20 million as part of a settlement with the US Justice Department, the Department said on Monday, January 4.
The Georgia-based company and other concrete companies were alleged to have organized the conspiracy by dividing up the market in coastal Georgia as well as coordinating on issuing rate-increase letters and charging fuel surcharges, it stated.
According to the one-count felony charge filed today in the US District Court in Savannah, employees of Argos and other ready-mix concrete companies carried out the charged conspiracy by coordinating the issuance of price-increase letters to customers, allocating specific ready-mix concrete jobs in the coastal Georgia area, charging fuel surcharges and environmental fees, and submitting bids to customers at collusive and noncompetitive prices. The charged conspiracy began as early as 2010 and continued until about July 2016.
The Antitrust Division also announced a deferred prosecution agreement (DPA) resolving the charge against Argos, under which the company agreed to pay a US$20 million criminal penalty, admitted to participating in the charged conspiracy, and agreed to cooperate fully with the Antitrust Division’s ongoing criminal investigation and prosecution of others involved in this conspiracy.
“Price fixing, market allocation, and bid rigging are not only unethical, but illegal,” said Assistant Attorney General Makan Delrahim in a statement. “The division, along with its law enforcement partners, remains focused on prosecuting those responsible for this type of conduct.”
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