Argos USA admits to violating U.S. antitrust laws -Justice Department

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -Argos USA LLC, a unit of Grupo Argos, has admitted to conspiring to fix prices, rig bids and allocate markets for sales of ready-mix concrete, and agreed to pay $20 million as part of a settlement with the U.S. Justice Department, the department said on Monday.

The Georgia-based company and other concrete companies were alleged to have organized the conspiracy by dividing up the market in coastal Georgia as well as coordinating on issuing rate-increase letters and charging fuel surcharges, it said.

In a statement, Argos said the wrongdoing was committed by “a small number of former employees of a small, local sales office” that joined Argos when it acquired another company.

Argos said in a statement that its management “did not participate in or condone the conduct, which was undertaken in contravention of company compliance policies.”

Argos is the second company charged in the conspiracy, the department said.

“Price fixing, market allocation, and bid rigging are not only unethical, but illegal,” said Assistant Attorney General Makan Delrahim in a statement. “The division, along with its law enforcement partners, remains focused on prosecuting those responsible for this type of conduct.”

Reporting by Diane Bartz, Eric Beech, Editing by Franklin Paul and Sonya Hepinstall