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The Department of Justice announced Sept. 15 that a Japanese company has agreed to plead guilty and pay a $9 million criminal fine for its role in a nearly decade long price-fixing and bid-rigging conspiracy involving automotive access mechanisms for installation in cars manufactured and sold in the U.S. and elsewhere. Access mechanisms consist of inside and outside door handles, tailgate or trunk handles, keys, lock sets (also called key sets), door locks, and electrical and mechanical steering column locks.
As part of its plea, which is subject to court approval, the company has agreed to cooperate in an ongoing federal antitrust investigation into price fixing, bid rigging, and other anticompetitive conduct in the auto parts industry. A total of 46 companies and 64 executives have now been charged in this investigation and agreed to pay more than $2.8 billion in criminal fines.