June 1st 2006, BRUSSELS: The European Court of Justice has thrown out Archer Daniels Midland's appeal over allegations of an amino acids cartel. The Court confirmed that, when setting the level of fines, the Commission does not have to take into account fines paid by a company in other jurisdictions and is entitled to change its methodology for setting fines.
In June 2000, the commission fined Archer Daniels Midland, Decatur, Illinois, and four other companies for operating a worldwide price fixing cartel for amino acids -- a key ingredient in poultry and swine feed.
The fines imposed by the Commission were appealed to the Court of First Instance which upheld the Commission's decision in all important aspects, but reduced the fines slightly from Euro 110 million to Euro 103 million - the fines imposed on ADM were reduced to Euro 43.9 million from Euro 47.3 million. ADM appealed this judgment to the Court of Justice.
ADM participated in a cartel that fixed prices and sales volumes of the synthetic amino acid, lysine. The availability of synthetic amino acids enables livestock nutritionists to compose protein diets that better meet the animal's nutrient requirements. ADM has also been fined by the Commission for its participation in two other cartels. In 2001 the Commission imposed a fine of Euro 10.1 million on the company for participating in the sodium gluconate cartel and Euro 39.7 million for participating in the citric acid cartel. Both cases are currently pending before the Court of First Instance.