Two of Japan’s biggest car parts makers, Denso and Yazaki, are paying fines totaling $548 million in a criminal price-fixing conspiracy case involving parts sales to United States automakers, the Justice Department said.
One supplier, Yazaki will pay a $470 million fine and the other, Denso, will pay $78 million.
The companies and its executives sold automotive electrical components to automobile manufacturers at inflated prices by holding meetings and conversations to agree on the prices and how to sell the part, the Justice department said.
This allowed them to sell electrical components to car companies at inflated prices. They also met to monitor and enforce their agreements, it said.
Denso, in a statement, said some of its executives and directors would return up to 30 percent of their pay for three months. It said the company created stricter rules and enhanced training to prevent such violations and was “committed to compliance with all applicable antitrust laws around the world.”
The four executives from Yazaki — Tsuneaki Hanamura, Ryoji Kawai, Shigeru Ogawa and Hisamitsu Takada — will serve prison time ranging from 15 months to two years, the Justice Department said. The four executives are currently in Japan, but are expected back in the United States shortly to face arraignment.
The two-year sentences for two of the four the Yazaki executives would, if approved by the court, become the longest U.S. prison terms imposed on any foreign national in a Sherman Act case.
“I think a lot of folks in the U.S. industry have suspected without proof that the Japanese suppliers were collaborating,” said Logan Robinson, the former general counsel of auto parts giant Delphi Automotive, who now teaches law at the University of Detroit Mercy.
The Department of Justice and the European Commission revealed last summer that they were also investigating Sweden’s Autoliv and Michigan-based TRW, two of the biggest suppliers of airbags and safety belts.