Article ABA Journal

Fox in the Hen House


Chicago litigation partner James H. Mutchnik reviews two books about criminal antitrust at Archer Daniels Midland (ADM).  The Informant by Kurt Eichenwald and Rats in the Grain by James B. Lieber both chronicle Mark Whitacre's criminal activities at ADM.  However, Mutchnik makes clear that although these books are based on the same subject, he does not believe they are of equal caliber.

Mutchnik's perspective on the case against ADM employees is rather unique because he was one of the prosecuting attorneys.  He and other prosecuters from the Antitrust Division of the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Northern District of Illinois and a few FBI agents spent five years investigating Mark Whitacre and his ADM colleagues.

According to Mutchnik, Lieber's in-depth look at the antitrust trials of Mark Whitacre and his colleagues is "too hard to get through."  In contrast, he believes that Eichenwald has written a "fascinating" story about Mark Whitacre's compelling decisions that put him in jail until 2008.  The Informant focuses on Whitacre's complex role in the criminal activities at ADM.  He was not only a chief participant in the price-fixing, but he was also the FBI's number one informant.  Additionally, he simultaneously embezzled nearly $10 million. 

The full text of this article can be found in the January 2001 edition of  the ABA Journal.