Robert Bosch GmbH, the German auto parts maker that counts as the largest supplier in the world, has opted to plead guilty to accusations of rigging prices of several components, according to the US Justice Department.
As part of the case against it, Bosch will have to pay a criminal fine of $57.8 million and the German company’s settlement is only the recent in a long line of car parts makers indicted (34 in total) who either pleaded or agreed to plead guilty to fixing car parts prices. The accusations revolved around more than 30 types of components, including seat belts, ball bearings, radiators, windshield wipers, air-conditioning systems, power window motors and power steering parts. Robert Bosch has been charged with scamming bids for spark plugs, oxygen sensors and starter motors they delivered to Ford, General Motors and other automakers between 2000 and 2011, according to the Justice Department.
The usual procedure for auto companies is to request “quotation” to their suppliers around three full years before the parts are actually needed, with the parts makers then bidding against each other to provide the components, read the complaint. In this particular instance, the suppliers, with Bosch among them, secretly agreed among themselves what bids and quotations to be sent to engine and carmakers, said a Justice Department statement. According to Deputy Assistant Attorney General Brent Snyder, who works for the Antitrust Division’s Criminal Enforcement Program, the collusion of the suppliers (other parties involved were not named) was actually a global affair.