• Kyodo

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A U.S. federal grand jury on Tuesday indicted Shogo Ando, former president of Japan’s Nippon Electrode Co., for his alleged role in an international conspiracy to fix the price of carbon-cathode block, the Justice Department said.

The federal grand jury in Camden, N.J., also indicted Manfred Mueller, a former executive of the German company VAW Carbon GmbH.

The one-count felony indictment charges that Ando and Mueller “conspired with unnamed coconspirators to suppress and eliminate competition in the carbon-cathode block industry in the United States and elsewhere from as early as June 1995 and continuing at least through December 1997.”

This is the first indictment of individuals in the case.

Previously, Anchor Industrial Products Inc., Nippon Electrode, an affiliate of Nippon Light Metal Co. and VAW were charged separately and each pleaded guilty to conspiring with others to suppress and eliminate competition in the carbon cathode block industry.

The charge against Ando and Mueller carries a maximum penalty of three years imprisonment and a $350,000 fine.

The fine could be increased to twice the gain derived from the crime or twice the loss suffered by victims of the crime, if either of those amounts is greater than the statutory maximum fine.

Because of its high conductivity, strength, and resistance to heat and chemical reaction, carbon cathode block is commonly used in aluminum smelters and pots in the production of primary aluminum.

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