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The Department of Justice announced Nov. 8 that an automotive parts manufacturer based in Japan has agreed to plead guilty and pay a $7.2 million criminal fine for its role in a criminal conspiracy to fix prices, allocate customers, and rig bids for automotive steel tubes sold to automobile manufacturers in the U.S. The manufacturer has also agreed to cooperate with the ongoing federal antitrust investigation into price fixing, bid rigging, and other anticompetitive conduct in the automotive parts industry. A total of 47 companies and 65 executives have now been charged in this investigation and agreed to pay a total of more than $2.9 billion in criminal fines.
The DOJ notes that automotive steel tubes are used in fuel distribution, braking, and other automotive systems and are sometimes divided into two categories: chassis tubes and engine parts. Chassis tubes, such as brake and fuel tubes, tend to be located in the body of a vehicle while engine parts, such as fuel injection rails, oil level tubes, and oil strainer tubes, are associated with the function of a vehicle’s engine.