Exide Technologies (Princeton, NJ) announced that it has reached a plea agreement with the US Attorney for the southern district of Illinois, ending an investigation of Exide regarding past dealings between Exide's prior management and Sears Roebuck and Co. (Hoffman Estates, IL).
In the settlement, Exide Illinois Inc., a subsidiary of Exide Technologies, agrees to plead guilty to conspiracy to commit fraud in connection with batteries it manufactured and sold to Sears under a contract that began in the fall of 1994. Under the settlement, Exide will pay a fine of $27.5 million, payable over five years, with the first year's payment being $3.0 million. The government agrees that it will not prosecute any other criminal charges against Exide for any matter relating to the contract between Exide and Sears.
"This agreement brings to a close investigations of Exide relating to the questionable business practices of this company's former management team," stated Robert A. Lutz, chairman and CEO of the company, who joined in December of 1998. "There's a world of difference between the Exide of then and the Exide of now. We've replaced all managers who were implicated in any way, and are ourselves pursuing legal action against the top three former executives. We have an all-new board of directors. And we now have a zero-tolerance ethics and integrity code." He added, "With this settlement, we can now get back to concentrating our full and undivided attention to our mission of becoming the premier provider of electrical-energy storage solutions in the world."