CHICAGO An executive at the Ohio subsidiary of an unnamed Japanese automotive supplier pleaded guilty Friday for his role in an alleged conspiracy to fix prices and rig bids on anti-vibration rubber parts sold in the United States and elsewhere, the U.S. Department of Justice said.
Anti-vibration rubber parts are made of rubber and metal and help to reduce engine and road vibration.
Hiroshi Yoshida, a Japanese national, took part in the conspiracy from roughly October 2005 to June 2011, according to a one-count felony charge filed in U.S. District Court in northern Ohio.
Yoshida and his co-conspirators met secretly to plot the allocation of supplies for certain parts, exchange prices, submit noncompetitive bids and sell parts at collusive and noncompetitive prices, according to the court filing.
"The Cleveland FBI is committed to working with our Department of Justice partners in the Antitrust Division to keep this industry and other critical industries competitive by aggressively pursuing any conspiracy in northern Ohio that undermines free competition and our economy," according to Stephen D. Anthony, special agent in charge of the FBI Cleveland Division, which assisted in the investigation.
Yoshida has agreed to serve 12 months and one day in a U.S. prison, to pay a $20,000 criminal fine and to cooperate with the ongoing federal investigation.
At least nine companies and 12 executives, including Yoshida, have pleaded guilty or agreed to plead guilty in the Department of Justices ongoing auto parts price-fixing and bid-rigging probe. Earlier this month, Nagoya, Japan-based auto heater control panel manufacturer Tokai Rika Co. Ltd. agreed to plead guilty to an obstruction of justice charge related to the U.S. Justice Departments antitrust probe (amm.com, Nov. 6).
Assessed criminal fines for all involved total more than $790 million to date.