( Reuters ) - Three British businessmen on Monday were charged in federal court for their alleged roles in a price-fixing oil industry cartel involving the sale of products worth hundreds of millions of dollars.
Bryan Allison, managing director of UK-based Dunlop Oil & Marine Ltd; the company's sales director, David Brammar; and independent consultant Peter Whittle were each charged with one count of conspiracy to rig bids, fix prices and allocate market share in marine hose products, the Justice Department said.
The company is a unit of Germany's Continental Group AG (CONG.DE). Marine hose is a rubber conduit used to transfer oil between tanker vessels and storage facilities.
The three were charged in U.S. court in Houston and could come to trial as early as next May. Each faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $1 million fine.
Between 1999 and May 2007, Allison, Brammar and Whittle were part of a cartel involving hundreds of products millions of dollars worldwide, the Justice Department said.
The Britons were among eight foreign executives arrested last May in Houston and San Francisco for allegedly conspiring to suppress competition within the U.S. market for marine hoses. Two executives with Italy-based Manuli Rubber Industries SpA were indicted in Florida in September for allegedly taking part in the same cartel.
Two others from Trelleborg Industrie SAS, a French subsidiary of Sweden's Trelleborg AB (TRELb.ST), pleaded guilty to related charges this month and could receive reduced 14-month prison sentences, the Justice Department said.