The biggest-ever price fixing conspiracy keeps getting bigger with the announcement today by the Justice Department that nine Japanese auto parts suppliers and two executives will plead guilty and pay $740 million in criminal fines.
It's the latest settlement in a series of alleged international conspiracies to rig bids and fix the prices of car parts ranging from seatbelts to radiators to windshield wipers that are sold in the United States. The parts were sold to virtually every major car maker, including Chrysler, Ford and General Motors, as well as to the U.S. subsidiaries of Honda, Mazda, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Toyota and Subaru.
More than 25 million cars purchased by American consumers were affected by the illegal conduct, according to the Justice Department, which previously charged 11 other auto parts companies and 19 executives. Total fines collected to date top $1.6 billion, and 17 of the executives have been sentenced to prison.
“During the course of this wide-ranging investigation, as we have uncovered each auto part conspiracy, we have continued to find more and more parts that are involved,” Attorney General Eric Holder Jr. said at a press conference this morning in Washington, according to prepared remarks. “And our work isn’t done. We will continue to check under every hood and kick every tire to make sure we put an end to this illegal and destructive conduct.”
Holder said the conspiracies affected more than $5 billion in automobile parts sold to U.S. car manufacturers.
The charges were filed U.S. district courts in Detroit, Cincinnati; and Toledo, Ohio. The fines and sentences are:
• Hitachi Automotive Systems Ltd. to pay a $195 million criminal fine;
• Jtekt Corporation to pay a $103.27 million criminal fine;
• Mitsuba Corporation to pay a $135 million criminal fine;
• Mitsubishi Electric Corporation (MELCO) to pay a $190 million criminal fine;
• Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd. to pay a $14.5 million criminal fine;
• NSK Ltd. to pay a $68.2 million criminal fine;
• T.RAD Co. Ltd. to pay a $13.75 criminal fine;
• Valeo Japan Co. Ltd. to pay a $13.6 million criminal fine;
• Yamashita Rubber Co. Ltd. to pay a $11 million criminal fine;
• Tetsuya Kunida, a former executive of a U.S. subsidiary of a Japan-based automotive anti-vibration rubber products supplier to serve 12 months and one day in a U.S. prison, and to pay a $20,000 criminal fine; and
• Gary Walker, a former executive of a U.S. subsidiary of a Japan-based automotive products supplier to serve 14 months in a U.S. prison, and to pay a $20,000 criminal fine.