The customer is your enemy, the competition is your friend

Marta Russell ap888 at
Sat Jul 11 05:39:24 PDT 1998

> "There isn't one grain of anything in the world that is sold in a free
> market," Dwayne told a reporter from Mother Jones in 1995. "Not one! The
> only place you see a free market is in the speeches of politicians. People
> who are not from the Midwest do not understand that this is a socialist
> country."
> The extent of the price-fixing was laid out earlier this year by federal
> prosecutors in a little noticed pre-trial proffer filed in Chicago.

A.D.M.'s Dwayne Andreas sure knows about the "free" market. ADM's price-fixing scheming is about on the same level as its subsidy-fixing in Washington. As reported in the Nation, from 1991-94 A.D.M. and Andreas gave $2.6 million in campaign contributions and soft money gifts to both Dems and Reps. This lobbying effort resulted in a tax break worth about $350 million per year to A.D.M. Too bad price-fixing is illegal but politician-fixing isn't.

Marta Russell

The document quotes extensively from video and audio tapes made by former
> ADM executive turned FBI mole turned convict Whitacre. (Whitacre was
> convicted earlier this year of stealing millions of dollars from ADM, even
> though he claimed that the money was off-the-books compensation.)
> The proffer is startling in its scope. It contains within its 57 pages
> perhaps the most concentrated proof of corporate criminality ever
> assembled by a federal agency.
> The document, which was compiled by the Justice Department's James
> Griffin, argues that the agreement to fix prices was hammered out at a
> series of meetings, beginning with a meeting in Mexico City on June 23,
> 1992.
> The proffer contains large excerpts from tape recordings made by Whitacre
> when he was a mole for the FBI. The excerpts are riddled with expletives.
> According to Griffin's proffer, the government will prove at trial that at
> the Mexico City meeting, Wilson told other lysine producers "we are not
> cowboys, we should be trust(ing) and (have) competitive friendliness."
> Wilson points out that low lysine prices were benefitting the customers
> rather than the manufacturers.
> After the Mexico City meeting, the companies agreed to raise the U.S.
> price of lysine without reaching an agreement on holding down volume. As a
> result, the price of lysine increased throughout the summer.
> Another meeting was held in Paris in October 1992. After the Mexico City
> and Paris meetings, the price of lysine increased in some places, but not
> everywhere. The companies blamed each other for this, they began to bicker
> and prices dropped.
> A third meeting was held in Decatur, Illinois -- home to ADM -- on April
> 30, 1993.
> Prior to the Decatur meeting, Andreas and Whitacre had several strategy
> sessions, all of which were taped.
> Wilson and Andreas contended that ADM's sole promise to the other
> producers in 1992 was to lower its lysine volume only if the producers
> were able to maintain the higher lysine prices they had agreed to.
> During one such conversation, Andreas advised Whitacre: "You could just
> say to [Yanamoto, a Japanese competitor] look, these prices are so shitty
> .. and you guys are so disorganized that I don't know what kind of shit
> you're managing."
> At a March 10, 1994 meeting in Hawaii, the producers complained about each
> others' cheating on the fixed prices. Wilson laid out his price-fixing
> philosophy:
> "We are gonna get manipulated by these God damn buyers. . .They can be
> smarter than us if we let them be smarter ... They are not your friend.
> They are not my friend. And we gotta have 'em. Thank God we gotta have
> 'em, but they are not my friends. You are my friends. I wanna be closer to
> your than I am to any customer 'cause you can make us ... money."
> The competitor is our friend, and the customer is our enemy.
> God Bless America.
> Russell Mokhiber is editor of the Washington-D.C. based Corporate Crime
> Reporter. Robert Weissman is editor of the Washington, D.C.-based
> Multinational Monitor.
> (c) Russell Mokhiber and Robert Weissman
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