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Business Articles Awards > Concerted Practices

Stuck in the Middle: the US Struggles to Prosecute Senior Executives

Ron Knox, Global Competition Review, December 2016

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“You got all this stuff from customers, your salespeople are complaining, but goddamn it that’s our job! As managers, that’s our job” Terry Wilson, former head of Archer Daniels Midland’s corn processing business DoJ officials announce antitrust enforcement action , Federal Bureau of Investigations

The image of Terry Wilson as he says these words is famous now, at least in the antitrust world. There he sits at one end of a couch, white hair, silver-framed glasses, left arm draped over the armrest and holding a drink. He wears a short sleeved button-up shirt and light-coloured trousers – the uniform of the businessman who’s escaped to Hawaiian paradise. The image comes from a video, filmed by a camera hidden by the FBI in a nook of a Maui hotel room in March 1994. Wilson is surrounded by other businessmen, most of them dressed more formally. Most are Japanese. He and the others work for companies that should have competed with one another to make and sell different chemicals. Yet here they are, in this hotel room, hatching this conspiracy,
agreeing that their customers – not each other – were their real enemies, and that it was their job to ensure that their employers made nice, steady profits without the hassle of cutthroat rivalry.

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