An automotive parts supplier has agreed to plead guilty and pay a $65.3 million criminal fine for its role in a ten-year conspiracy to fix prices and rig bids for ceramic substrates for automotive catalytic converters supplied to automobile manufacturers, according to a Sept. 3 press release from the Department of Justice. The company will also plead guilty to obstruction of justice.
According to the charge, this company and representatives of another corporate conspirator had conversations in which they agreed upon anticompetitive bids and price quotations on bids to be submitted to certain automobile manufacturers. Additionally, after becoming aware of antitrust investigations in the U.S. and other countries, the company and certain of its executives and employees obstructed justice through a series of actions in both the U.S. and Japan, including deleting and attempting to delete electronic files, destroying and concealing paper files, removing and replacing high executives’ office computers, removing and concealing electronic files stored on its U.S. office computer system, attempting to destroy paper files located in the U.S., engaging in misleading actions and withholding information about the offenses under investigation.
The DOJ states that these charges are the latest in its ongoing investigation into anticompetitive conduct in the automotive parts industry. A total of 36 companies and 30 executives have now pleaded guilty or agreed to plead guilty and have agreed to pay more than $2.5 billion in criminal fines.