Review of Industrial Organization 18: 1–4, 2001.
Forensic Economics in Action: The Lysine Cartel
The four papers that follow were ﬁrst presented at a session jointly sponsored
by the Industrial Organization Society and the American Agricultural Economics
Association held at the 1999 Allied Social Sciences Association annual meeting.
Each of the economic papers examine the global lysine cartel from the diverse, but
complementary perspectives of professionals representing parties to legal actions.
The session was designed principally to show the role that economists play in the
legal-economic work sometimes called forensic economics.
In the evening of June 27, 1995, a large number of FBI agents capped a three-year
undercover investigation of price-ﬁxing allegations by raiding the world headquar-
ters of Archer Daniels Midland Company (ADM) in Decatur, Illinois.
subpoenas issued by a federal grand jury sitting in Chicago, the FBI agents collec-
ted documents concerning lysine, citric acid, and corn sweeteners from ADM’s
ﬁles. Within a few days, investigators had also raided the corporate ofﬁces of at
least ten other companies that manufactured or imported these products. Using
these documents, depositions, secret tape recordings of the lysine conspirators’
meetings, and other evidence, the Department of Justice (DOJ) was able to extract
guilty pleas from ADM and eight corporate co-conspirators in the lysine and citric
acid markets admitting to criminal price-ﬁxing activities.
These price-ﬁxing con-
Dr. Andrew Dick, an economist specializing in cartels in the Antitrust Division of the U.S.
Department of Justice prepared comments on the papers presented at the January 1999 ASSA ses-
sion. However, his written comments could not be released by the Department because of ongoing
litigation and investigations.
A useful handbook published by the American Bar Association is The Use of Economists as
Detailed sources for facts presented in this paper can be found in a Purdue Staff Paper entitled
Archer Daniels Midland: Price Fixer to the World (Fourth Edition) which is forthcoming in 2000.
Most of the facts can also be found in other of my 1997 and 1998 publications cited in the References
to this paper.
In order to encourage ADM to admit guilt in the lysine and citric acid conspiracies and to gain
ADM’s cooperation, the company was granted immunity from prosecution for any price-ﬁxing activ-