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News Briefs I

ADM Executives Found Guilty of Involvement in Price-Fixing Cartel

The Washington Post

Three former top executives of the giant agricultural company Archer Daniels Midland Inc. were found guilty Thursday of a global conspiracy to fix the price of a lucrative livestock feed additive. The verdict came after a Chicago jury listened to hours of taped conversations and watched videotapes of secret meetings around the world.

ADM has earned almost half its profits from products, such as corn syrup and ethanol, that benefitted from federal price supports and other federal programs. But the jury Thursday said that one aspect of ADM's deal-making - in the obscure business of lysine, a growth additive used to spur the growth of pigs and chickens - went too far.

The jury found ADM officials Michael Andreas, 49, Mark E. Whitacre, 41, and Terrance S. Wilson, 60, guilty of conspiring to set prices of the feed additive with foreign competitors and agreeing on how much each company would produce.

The jury heard and saw evidence that ADM and its co-conspirators discussed lysine prices at meetings in the United States, France, Japan, Mexico and Canada. The case was the largest U.S. criminal case ever involving an international cartel, according to legal experts. Many of them pled guilty and cooperated, marking a new era in international antitrust cases. Thus far, the Justice Department has levied $120 million in fines against ADM and Japanese corporations in the case.

U.S. Stocks Follow Foreign Markets In Another Selling Frenzy

The Washington Post

Stocks plunged Thursday, as U.S. investors mimicked counterparts in Europe, Asia and Latin America who raced to sell shares after comments Wednesday by Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan dashed hopes of a coordinated global interest-rate cut.

The Dow Jones industrial average lost 216.01 points, or 2.7 percent, closing at 7873.77. Wednesday, when Greenspan made his comments while testifying on Capitol Hill, the Dow had eked out a 65.39-point gain for the day.

But investors in Tokyo Wednesday night saw things differently. Its key market index slipped to a 12-year-low, followed by similar declines throughout Asia and in Europe. When the selling wave hit the Americas Thursday, it dragged down blue-chip stocks in the U.S. and hurt other markets, including Brazil's.

Several U.S. investors and analysts said they still expect Greenspan to lower interest rates sometime in the future. "He's good at deflating people's expectations so he can surprise people on the upside," said Andrew Brooks, head of equity trading at T. Rowe Price, a Baltimore-based mutual fund company.

Gunmen Slaughter 18 at Baja Farm, Drugs Probably Involved

Los Angeles Times

Unknown gunmen pulled 21 people from their beds early Thursday in a placid farm community just north of Ensenada, herded them onto a patio and opened fire, killing at least 18 in what authorities describe as the deadliest crime in Baja California history.

Eight children - including youngsters ages one, two and four - were among the dead, but one teen-ager who hid under a bed survived. Authorities said the 15-year-old girl, whom they plan to interview for clues to the identity of the killers, was "in shock" following the massacre.

Drugs will be a "main line" of inquiry as the possible motive, authorities said at afternoon news conferences, but they denied early reports suggesting that the farm where the killings took place was linked to marijuana production for Tijuana's notorious Arellano Felix drug cartel.

The attack took place at 4:30 a.m. in El Sauzal, a farm town on the outskirts of Ensenada about 60 miles south of the U.S. border, in a region famous for its coastal resorts and wineries.