Another concrete cartel guilty plea

By Helen Wright25 August 2011

US-based Great Lakes Concrete faces a penalty of US$ 100 million after becoming the latest ready-mixed concrete producer to plead guilty to price fixing and bid rigging.

The US Department of Justice (DoJ) said Great Lakes participated in the cartel, which controlled the price of ready-mixed concrete in the state of Iowa, from at least as early as January 2008 and continuing until as late as August 2009.

Great Lakes Concrete is charged with violating the Sherman Act, which carries a maximum fine of $100 million for corporations, but the DoJ said this could be increased to twice the gain derived from the crime.

The company's guilty plea arose from an ongoing federal antitrust investigation of the ready-mixed concrete industry in Iowa and surrounding states.

As a result of the investigation, three individuals have been convicted and sentenced to serve prison time, including president of Great Lakes Concrete Kent Robert Stewart, who was sentenced in February to serve a year and a day in prison and to pay a US$ 83427 criminal fine.

Including Great Lakes Concrete, four ready-mixed concrete companies have pleaded guilty so far and are awaiting sentencing.

In July, VS Holding pleaded guilty to fixing prices for the product in collusion with two other producers.

The DoJ said the Iowa-based company, formerly known as Alliance Concrete, participated in the cartel from at least January 2006 until as late as January 2008.

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