$120 Million Fine for Japanese Company in Auto Parts Price Fixing Probe
The Department of Justice announced Nov. 26 that a Japan-based company has agreed to plead guilty and pay a $120 million criminal fine for its role in two separate conspiracies to fix the prices of automotive components involving anti-vibration rubber and driveshaft parts installed in cars sold in the U.S. and elsewhere. An agency press release states that the company and its co-conspirators carried out the anti-vibration rubber parts conspiracy from as early as March 1996 until at least May 2012. The company also engaged in a separate conspiracy from as early as January 2006 until as late as September 2010 to fix, raise and maintain the prices of constant-velocity-joint boots it sold to U.S. subsidiaries of a British automotive parts supplier.
Installed in automobiles for the purpose of reducing road and engine vibration, automotive anti-vibration rubber parts are comprised primarily of rubber and metal and include engine mounts and suspension bushings. Automotive constant-velocity-joint boots are composed of rubber or plastic and are used to cover the constant-velocity-joints of an automobile to protect the joints from contaminants.
A total of 22 corporations and 26 executives have now been charged in the DOJ’s ongoing investigation into price fixing, bid rigging and other anticompetitive conduct in the auto parts industry. To date, more than $1.8 billion in criminal fines have been obtained and 20 of the charged executives have been sentenced or entered into plea agreements under which they will be sentenced to serve time in U.S. prisons.