CHICAGO Fujikura Ltd., a
producer of automotive copper wire harnesses, has agreed to
plead guilty and pay a $20-million fine for its role in an
alleged auto parts price-fixing and bid-rigging conspiracy, the
U.S. Justice Department said.
Tokyo-based Fujikura was one of
several wire harness producers who allegedly rigged bids and
fixed, stabilized and maintained prices for global automakers
from early 2006 to early 2010. Justice said the company has
agreed to cooperate in its ongoing investigation.
Fujikura and its alleged
co-conspirators agreed during meetings and conversations in
Japan to allocate the supply of automotive wire harnesses and
related products on a model-by-model basis, selling the parts
at non-competitive prices to automakers in the United States
and elsewhere, according to documents filed in U.S. District
Court in Michigan.
The Justice Department and the
FBI, along with antitrust law enforcement agencies in Japan,
Europe and Canada, began corporate office raids last summer in
a wide-ranging probe.
Earlier this month. G.S.
Electech Inc. of Japan agreed to plead guilty and pay a
$2.75-million fine for its role in another part of the
investigation involving alleged price-fixing on parts used in
anti-lock brake systems (AMM, April 5).
To date, five companies,
including Fujikura, have been charged and agreed to plead
guilty as a result of the investigation, agreeing to pay
criminal fines totaling more than $770 million, and eight
executives have been sent to jail for between one and two
Canadian car dealers have filed
three class-action lawsuits in the Ontario Superior Court of
Justice seeking more than $700 million in damages from the
alleged co-conspirators (AMM, March 28).