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Article

Abstract

The global vitamins cartel was "the most pervasive and harmful criminal antitrust conspiracy ever uncovered." From 1990 to 1999, multinational firms based in Canada, Germany, Japan, Switzerland, and the United States colluded to fix prices, rig bids, and allocate global market shares in their sale of vitamin products. These products are critical for human and animal nutrition and affect more than $5 billion of global commerce. Reflecting the scope of the crime, the antitrust penalties imposed in the United States were staggering. Members of the cartel paid nearly $1 billion in fines. Hoffman- LaRoche, the cartel's leader, paid a $500 million fine, the largest criminal fine ever collected by the United States. Six of the main conspirators settled a private class action lawsuit by domestic purchasers of vitamin products for $1.05 billion, "the largest private anti-trust price-fixing settlement in history. Individual corporate executives were sentenced to prison in the United States. Other jurisdictions-including Europe, Canada, Japan, and Australia-levied both criminal and civil penalties against the conspirators.

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