Japanese Exec Says ADM Made Demand
CHICAGO (AP) _ A Japanese executive testified Thursday that meetings were held around the world in a conspiracy by agricultural giant Archer Daniels Midland Co. and other companies to fix the price of a product that spurs growth in pigs and chickens.
Kanji Mimoto, an executive of the Tokyo-based Ajinomoto Co. food-processing empire, said the companies once fabricated an agenda to cover their tracks in a Paris meeting, claiming it was about animal rights and the environment.
``This is a fake agenda _ the camouflage of the meeting,″ Mimoto testified.
Mimoto, the first witness in the price-fixing trial of three current and former ADM executives, has already pleaded guilty and is testifying under a plea agreement with federal prosecutors.
ADM executive vice president Michael Andreas, son of ADM chairman Dwayne Andreas, is on trial with Terrance Wilson and Mark Whitacre. They are charged with conspiracy to fix the $600 million global market in lysine, an amino acid that is added to hog and poultry feed.
Mimoto said he wrote the false agenda for the 1992 Paris session that included ADM executives because it was understood that what they were doing was illegal.
He said he attended at least 14 price-fixing meetings in Paris, Tokyo, Chicago, Mexico City, Hong Kong, Zurich and elsewhere as the five worldwide producers of the feed additive tried to carve up the market in the early 1990s.
But he said he feared attending a meeting set up by ADM in Maui, Hawaii, because of stringent U.S. laws against price fixing.
``The United States is very severe in the control of antitrust activity,″ Mimoto said. ``... As much as possible we wanted to avoid meeting in the United States.″
Mimoto told the jury about a June 1992 meeting in Mexico City that brought together all five makers of lysine worldwide at that time. At the meeting, Wilson and Whitacre pressed for a one-third market share _ the same as market-leading Ajinomoto, Mimoto testified.
U.S. Attorney Scott Lassar asked exactly who wanted to set specific production allocations, then raise the price of lysine.
``Mr. Terry Wilson,″ Mimoto said.
Wilson, 60, retired head of ADM’s corn division, was impassive as Mimoto pointed him out in court.
Much of the case is based on tapes made secretly by Whitacre, whose job was to launch the Decatur-based ADM into the lysine business previously centered in Asia.
Whitacre made the tapes as an undercover FBI ``mole″ but fell out with the government after pleading guilty to embezzling $9 million from ADM. He is sitting out the trial in a prison in Butner, N.C., at his request.