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Ishihara Sangyo Kaisha Ltd. pleaded guilty and was ordered to pay a $5 million fine Thursday for conspiring to fix prices of materials used to manufacture videotapes, the U.S. Justice Department said.

The guilty plea came a day after a one-count superseding charge, filed in the U.S. District Court in Philadelphia, alleged the Osaka-based chemical maker conspired with other companies to fix prices of magnetic iron oxide particles in the United States and elsewhere between January 1995 and April 1998.

In Osaka on Friday, an Ishihara Sangyo spokesman confirmed that the company agreed to pay the fine.

MIO particles are used in powder form in the production of videotapes and audiotapes.

In July 2001, Ishihara Sangyo and three of its executives were indicted for conspiring to fix prices of MIO particles in the U.S. and elsewhere between 1991 and 1998.

Under a plea agreement with Ishihara Sangyo, the charge in the July 2001 indictment will be dismissed, the Justice Department said.

But the three Ishihara Sangyo executives indicted in July 2001 remain fugitives, the department said.

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