marine hoseOn 4 April 2014, the US Department of Justice announced the successful extradition from Germany of Italian, Romano Pisciotti, for the criminal cartel offence under section 1 of the Sherman Act, arising from his alleged role in the long-running global marine hose investigation. This constitutes the first ever successful extradition of a defendant on a criminal antitrust charge.

Pisciotti, a former executive with Parker ITR Srl, a marine hose manufacturer headquartered in Veniano, Italy, was arrested in Germany on 17 June 2013 and arrived in Miami on 3 April 2014. He made his initial appearance on 4 April 2014 in the U.S. District Court in Fort Lauderdale.

The marine hose investigation became public in June 2007 with the arrest of eight foreign executives, while attending the annual industry trade fair in Houston, Texas. All subsequently pleaded guilty and received varying terms of imprisonment. In 2008, the ninth defendant, a former Bridgestone manager, pleaded guilty to an FCPA violation and was sentenced to two years imprisonment.

Marine hose is a flexible rubber hose used to transfer oil between tankers and storage facilities. According to the Department of Justice, the conspiracy began at least as early as 1999 and continued until at least May 2007. Pisciotti was charged with joining and participating in the conspiracy from at least 1999 until at least November 2006. According to an indictment dated 26 August 2010, Pisciotti carried out the conspiracy by agreeing to allocate shares of the marine hose market among the conspirators. The conspiracy included an agreement not to compete for customers with other marine hose sellers, either by not submitting prices or bids or by submitting intentionally high prices or bids, all in accordance with the agreements reached among the conspiring companies.

To date, five companies, including Parker ITR; Bridgestone Corp. of Japan; Manuli SPa of Italy’s Florida subsidiary; Trelleborg of France; and Dunlop Marine and Oil Ltd, have pleaded guilty in the US.

Assistant Attorney General Bill Baer of the Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division said that “This first of its kind extradition on an antitrust charge allows the department to bring an alleged price fixer to the United States to face charges of participating in a worldwide conspiracy. This marks a significant step forward in our ongoing efforts to work with our international antitrust colleagues to ensure that those who seek to subvert U.S. law are brought to justice.”

Previously, the most high profile attempt at extraditing on an antitrust charge had been the US request for UK national, Iain Norris. In March 2008, the House of Lords ruled that the alleged conduct from 1989-2000, did not amount to a criminal offence in the UK at that time as the UK did not introduce the cartel offence until 2003.

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About Michael O'Kane

Michael O’Kane is a partner and Head of the Business Crime team at leading UK firm Peters & Peters. Described as ‘first-rate’ (Legal 500 2012), he “draws glowing praise from commentators” (Chambers 2013) for handling the international aspects of business crime, including sanctions, extradition and mutual legal assistance. Called to the Bar in 1992 and prior to joining Peters & Peters he was a senior specialist prosecutor at the Crown Prosecution Service Headquarters(CPS). At CPS HQ he was a key member of a small specialist unit responsible for the prosecution of serious and high profile fraud, terrorist and special interest criminal matters including the Stansted Airport Afghan hijacking and the prosecution of Paul Burrell (Princess Diana’s butler). Michael joined Peters & Peters in 2002. He became a partner in May 2004, and Head of the Business Crime team in May 2009. Since joining Peters & Peters, Michael has dealt with a wide range of business crime matters. He has particular expertise in international sanctions, criminal cartels, extradition, corruption, mutual legal assistance, and FSA investigations. Described as“ an influential practitioner in fraud and regulatory work, so much so that he is top of the referral lists of many City firms for independent advice for directors” (The Lawyer’s Hot 100 2009), he was recognised as one of the UK’s most innovative lawyers in the 2011 FT Innovative Lawyer Awards and included in the list of the UK's leading lawyers in 'The International Who's Who of Asset Recovery 2012. In 2012 he was the winner of the Global Competition Review Article of the Year. Michael regularly appears on television and radio to discuss his specialist areas and he is the author of the leading textbook on the UK Criminal Cartel Offence “The Law of Criminal Cartels-Practice and Procedure” (Oxford University Press 2009). Recent/Current Sanctions Work • Representing 109 individuals and 12 companies subject to designation by the European Council under targeted measures imposed against Zimbabwe. This is the largest and most complex collective challenge to a sanctions listing ever brought before the European Court. • Acting for a former Egyptian Minister and his UK resident wife, challenging their designation by the European Council of Ministers under targeted measures brought against former members of the Egyptian Government. • Advising a company accused in a UN investigation report to have breached UN sanctions imposed in relation to Somalia. • Advising a UK company in relation to ongoing commercial relationships with an Iranian company listed under both EU and UN sanctions. • Advising an individual in relation to a UK investigation for alleging breaching nuclear export controls.

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