Japan-based companies and two executives have agreed to plead
guilty and to pay a combined $740 million in fines for
conspiring to fix the prices of more than 30 products sold to
U.S. automakers and installed in vehicles sold domestically and
Price-fixed parts were
sold to Chrysler Group LLC, Ford Motor Co. and General Motors
Co., as well as the U.S. subsidiaries of Honda Motor Co. Ltd.,
Mazda Motor Corp., Mitsubishi Motors Corp., Nissan Motor Co.
Ltd., Toyota Motor Corp. and Fuji Heavy Industries Ltd.s
Subaru vehicle line, the U.S. Justice Department said.
Many of these parts
are metal intensive, including copper wire harnesses. Other
metal-containing parts under investigation include bearings,
radiators, ignition coils, controls, switches and sensors.
U.S. Attorney General
Eric Holder and Scott D. Hammond, deputy assistant attorney
general of the Antitrust Divisions criminal enforcement
program, discussed the latest charges Sept. 26 during a press
conference in Washington.
"Some of the
price-fixing conspiracies lasted for a decade or longer,"
Hammond said. His division has worked with "international
competition colleagues who have provided invaluable assistance
to the Justice Department in breaking up these worldwide
authorities raided eight auto suppliers Sept. 24, according to
numerous reports. Aurora, Ontario-based Magna International
Inc. confirmed the German Federal Cartel Office searched one of
its operating divisions "in connection with an ongoing
antitrust investigation of the automobile textile coverings and
Magna said it is
cooperating with German officials.
Those signing the
latest plea agreements were Hitachi Automotive Systems Ltd.;
Jtekt Corp.; Mitsubishi Electric Corp.; Mitsubishi Heavy
Industries Ltd.; bearings producer NSK Ltd.; radiator producer
T.RAD Co. Ltd.; Valeo Japan Co. Ltd.; Yamashita Rubber Co.
Ltd.; Tetsuya Kunida, a former rubber products executive; and
Gary Walker, who worked for a Japanese supplier in the U.S.
price-fixing conspiracies affected more than $5 billion in
automobile parts sold to U.S. car manufacturers, and more than
25 million cars purchased by American consumers were affected
by the illegal conduct," Holder said.
This is the largest
criminal investigation the Antitrust Division has ever pursued
in terms of scope and the commerce affected by the allegations,
"Our work isnt
done. 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.