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Cargill settles price-fixing lawsuit

21-May-2004

US Agro-food giant Cargill has confirmed that a $24 million class-action lawsuit accusing the US food giant of price-fixing will be settled following federal court approval. The end is now in sight for a law suit that dates back nine years.

Cargill has confirmed that a verbal order was issued by the US courts in Illinois.

The court decision is the latest in a series of court room battles dating back to 1995, when Cargill, Archer Daniels Midland and A.E. Staley Manufacturing - a unit of UK sugar company Tate & Lyle - were accused of fixing prices in the €2.6 billion world market for the corn sweetener high-fructose corn syrup - a sugar substitute.

In 1996 the US Justice Department ordered ADM to pay $100 million for fixing the prices of two much smaller products - lysine and citric acid - and, in the same case, a federal jury in Chicago sent three Archer Daniels executives to prison.

Cargill's law firm, Berger and Montague, confirmed that the judge presiding over the case had verbally agreed the order yesterday, after no objections were raised. Written approval is now to follow.

"We agreed to settle only after accessing the costs of further litigation. We did not engage in any illegal activity," said a Cargill statement on the decision.

Previously the plaintiff's lawyers had said that the law suit would seek to rake back combined damages of $1.4 billion from the three companies.

In turn, Berger and Montague have said that it will continue to seek damages for its client from both ADM and A.E. Staley.

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