A lawyer for Ian Norris, a British businessman fighting extradition to the U.S. on price-fixing charges, told the U.K.'s highest court that cartels weren't illegal in the U.K. when the alleged conduct occurred.
The 65-year-old former chief executive officer of Morgan Crucible Co. (MGCR) has been charged in Pennsylvania with conspiring with other executives to rig prices in the carbon parts market in the 1990s and trying to obstruct an ensuing investigation. If he loses the appeal, he will become the first person extradited to the U.S. for price-fixing.
Norris's lawyer, Jonathan Sumption QC, told a five-judge panel of the House of Lords in London today that no one has been successfully prosecuted under U.K. criminal law for cartel behavior. The court is considering whether price-fixing was a crime in Britain before the adoption of the Enterprise Act of 2002.
``English law has always been highly ambivalent about the regulation of cartels,'' Sumption said.
Lawyers for the U.S. have claimed in the case that any ``dishonest'' attempt to fix prices is covered by the long- standing English charge of conspiracy to defraud.
The rules governing extraditions between the U.S. and the U.K. stipulate that a person can only be extradited for conduct that is a criminal offense in both countries.
The British government first authorized Norris's extradition in September 2005, after a lower court ruled it would be appropriate for the businessman to be tried in the U.S. Norris denies wrongdoing.
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