Nine Automobile Parts Manufacturers Agree To Plead Guilty To Fixing Prices on Automobile Parts
Nine Japan-based companies and two executives have agreed to plead guilty and to pay a total of more than $740 million in criminal fines for their roles in separate conspiracies to fix the prices of more than 30 different products sold to U.S. car manufacturers and installed in cars sold in the United States and elsewhere, the Department of Justice announced. The department said that price-fixed automobile parts were sold to Chrysler, Ford and General Motors, as well as to the U.S. subsidiaries of Honda, Mazda, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Toyota and Fuji Heavy Industries - more commonly known by its brand name, Subaru.
“These international 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,” said Attorney General Eric Holder. “The Department of Justice will continue to crack down on cartel behavior that causes American consumers and businesses to pay higher prices for the products and services they rely upon in their everyday lives.”
“Some of the price-fixing conspiracies lasted for a decade or longer, and many car models were fitted with multiple parts that were fixed by the auto parts suppliers,” said Scott D. Hammond, Deputy Assistant Attorney General of the Antitrust Division’s criminal enforcement program. “The Antitrust Division has worked hand in hand with its international competition colleagues who have provided invaluable assistance to the Justice Department in breaking up these worldwide price-fixing cartels.”
Twenty companies and 21 executives have been charged in the Antitrust Division’s ongoing investigation into price fixing and bid rigging in the auto parts industry. All 20 companies have either pleaded guilty or have agreed to plead guilty and have agreed to pay more than $1.6 billion in criminal fines. Seventeen of the 21 executives have been sentenced to serve time in U.S. prisons or have entered into plea agreements calling for significant prison sentences. Each of the companies and executives charged have agreed to cooperate with the department’s ongoing antitrust investigation. The plea agreements are subject to court approval.
Generally, the companies, executives, and co-conspirators engaged in the various price-fixing schemes by attending meetings and communicating by telephone in the United States and Japan to reach collusive agreements to rig bids, set prices and allocate the supply of auto parts sold to the car manufacturers. They took measures to keep their conduct secret by using code names and meeting in remote locations. Those charged also had further communications to monitor and enforce the collusive agreements. The multiple conspiracies also harmed U.S. automobile plants in 14 states: Alabama; California; Georgia; Illinois; Indiana; Kansas; Kentucky; Michigan; Mississippi; Missouri; Ohio; Tennessee; Texas; and Wisconsin, the department said.