European Union antitrust regulators fined two Japanese auto parts companies with nearly 137 million euros (150 million dollars) for fixing prices on some components.

Some Japanese auto suppliers are said to have fixed prices of several components, sources have revealed this week. These companies, which created a cartel, are number 2 parts maker Denso, Mitsubishi Electric and a Hitachi unit, people said, and they will be punished by the European Union antitrust watchdogs. The rumors have proven to be true, as the European Commission has just announced it has imposed fines of 137 789 000 euros on Melco (Mitsubishi Electric) and Hitachi for participating in a cartel for alternators and starters with another firm, Denso, in breach of EU antitrust rules. Denso was not fined, as it revealed the existence of the cartel to the Commission and all companies acknowledged their involvement and agreed to settle the case. The EU said that for more than five years, the three Japanese car parts manufacturers coordinated prices and allocated customers or projects with regards to alternators and starters.

This action will be the first one of several automobile-related cases scheduled for 2016 by the European Commission and is the latest in a series of penalties levied by antitrust regulators in the US, Europe and Asia against a very lucrative deceptive business model in the automotive industry. The auto parts suppliers’ business pattern keeps prices high for new components they supply to carmakers, to then charge even more for the same parts offered as replacements to dealerships and repair shops. The Commission briefed national competition authorities on the case earlier this week, the sources told Reuters.

The European Commission can impose fines up to 10 percent of companies’ global turnover for breaching antitrust laws. US antitrust regulators fined Hitachi Automotive Systems, Mitsubishi Electric Corp. and others for fixing prices of accelerators and starters in September 2013. Japan’s Fair Trade Commission in November 2012 also named the three companies as part of a similar cartel.

Via Reuters


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