Nine Japanese companies have pleaded guilty for conspiring in fixing prices of auto parts sold to the US automakers.
According to the Department of Justice, the nine companies and two executives have agreed to pay fines of almost $745 million after they pleaded guilty for fixing prices of auto parts sold to American automakers. These settlements are the latest in a thorough investigation on price fixing conspiracies which has already uncovered 21 executives and 20 companies, which have agreed to pay fines of $1.6 billion.
“More than 25 million cars purchased by American consumers were affected by the illegal conduct,” said Attorney General Eric Holder.
The Department said that the auto parts have been sold to Chrysler, GM and Ford, but also US subsidiaries of Mazda, Honda, Nissan, Mitsubishi, Toyota and Subaru. Scott Hammond of the department’s antitrust division’s criminal enforcement program, said that some of these conspiracies lasted for more than a decade and prices have been fixed for more than 30 different products, including radiators, seat belts, air-conditioning systems, windshield wipers, power steering components and power window motors.
“Every time we discover a conspiracy involving the automotive industry, we seem to find another one,” said Hammond.
Some of the companies and executives which pleaded guilty and agreed to pay the fines are: Hitachi Automotive Systems ($195 million), Jtekt Corp ($103.27 million), Mitsuba Corp ($135 million), Mitsubishi Electric Corp ($190 million), Mitsubishi Heavy Industries ($14.5 million), NSK Ltd ($68.2 million), T.RAD Co Ltd ($13.75 million), Valeo Japan ($13.6 million), Yamashita Rubber ($11 million), executive Tetsuya Kunida ($20,000), executive Gary Walker ($20,000).
“We are greatly concerned by the large number of suppliers in the automotive supplier sector who have pled guilty to serious criminal price fixing charges,” said GM spokesman Tom Henderson.