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 years.
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).