In 1961 the Federal District court in Philadelphia sent seven top executives from the electrical industry to prison for price-fixing. It was the largest antitrust case in the history of the United States. Attorney General Robert Kennedy publicly stated, “I regard the price-fixing of the electrical industry as a major serious threat to democracy.” Led by General Electric and Westinghouse, the conspiracy involved twentynine corporations. Author John Fuller, in his book The Gentlemen Conspirators, writes:
Forty-five executives of some of the country’s outstanding corporations got to-
gether over a long period of years in conspiratorial meetings. They set the meet
ings up from public phone booths, or by letters on blank stationery signed by
coded names. They never permitted themselves to be seen together in public
dining rooms or hotel lobbies. They often registered in hotels as individuals,
rather than as company representatives.… The conspirators were required to
destroy immediately any written communications … to cover up their tracks
with falsified expense accounts.… The extent of the criminal practices was so
widespread in the industry that they affected nearly every generator, every elec-
trical distributor, every utility, power plant, dam, power-line pole, and power
transformer, and thus every home and industry in the country.1
In an interview, one of the key people in the conspiracy, a General Electric vice president, stated that he knew the price-fixing was wrong, but while he was involved, he kept telling himself that he was “going
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Publication information: Book title: The Ethical Executive: Becoming Aware of the Root Causes of Unethical Behavior: 45 Psychological Traps That Every One of Us Falls Prey To. Contributors: Robert Hoyk - Author, Paul Hersey - Author. Publisher: Stanford University Press. Place of publication: Stanford, CA. Publication year: 2008. Page number: 75.
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