9 Japanese firms fined US$740 million for fixing prices of parts sold to US carmakers
Reuters in Washington
Nine companies based in Japan and two executives have agreed to plead guilty and to pay a total of more than US$740 million in fines for their roles in long-running conspiracies to fix the prices of car parts sold to US carmakers, the US Department of Justice said on Thursday.
The department said price-fixed parts were sold to Fiat affiliate Chrysler, Ford Motor and General Motors and to the US subsidiaries of Honda Motor, Mazda Motor, Mitsubishi Motors, Nissan Motor, Toyota Motor and Subaru.
In some cases the activity, which involved separate conspiracies to fix prices of more than 30 different products, lasted for a decade or longer, said Scott Hammond of the antitrust division’s criminal enforcement programme.
Among the parts affected by the conspiracies were seat belts, radiators, windshield wipers, air-conditioning systems, power window motors and power steering components.
The conspiracies affected more than US$5 billion in parts sold to US manufacturers. “More than 25 million cars purchased by American consumers were affected by the illegal conduct,” said Attorney General Eric Holder.
Thursday’s actions brought the total to 20 companies and 21 executives charged in the antitrust division’s investigation into price fixing and bid rigging, the largest such investigation the division has pursued.
Each of the companies and executives in the plea deal announced on Thursday has agreed to co-operate with the department’s ongoing antitrust investigation, the Justice Department said.
US investigators worked with colleagues in Canada, Europe, South Korea, Mexico and Australia, among others.
“We will continue to check under every hood and kick every tire to make sure we put an end to this illegal and destructive conduct,” Holder said.
The companies fined were: Hitachi Automotive Systems, Jtekt, Mitsuba, Mitsubishi Electric, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, NSK, T.RAD, Valeo Japan andYamashita Rubber.
Tetsuya Kunida, a Japanese citizen and former executive of a US subsidiary of a Japan-based automotive anti-vibration rubber products supplier, is to serve 12 months and one day in a US prison and pay a US$20,000 criminal fine.
Gary Walker, a US citizen and former executive of a US subsidiary of a Japan-based automotive products supplier, is to serve 14 months in a US prison and pay a US$20,000 criminal fine.