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The Department of Justice reports that three Japanese automotive parts executives have been indicted for their alleged participation in a conspiracy to fix prices and rig bids for the sale of automotive body sealing products sold in the U.S. Automotive body sealing products consist of body-side opening seals, door-side weather-stripping, glass-run channels, trunk lids and other smaller seals, which are installed in automobiles to keep the interior dry from rain and free from wind and exterior noises.
Justice alleges that these executives conspired with their competitors from as early as Sept. 2003 until at least Oct. 2011 to fix the prices of body sealing products sold to two major automakers and installed in U.S. cars. According to the indictment, each of these executives instructed their subordinates at their respective companies to communicate with co-conspirators at other companies in order to allocate sales of, rig bids for and fix the prices of automotive body sealing products. The indictment further alleges that the executives were aware that employees under their supervision were engaging in and condoned such communications. In addition, one of the executives attended meetings in the U.S. with co-conspirators during which he reached agreement regarding sales of automotive body sealing products to two automakers. If convicted, each individual faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $1 million criminal fine.
This indictment is the result of an ongoing federal antitrust investigation into price fixing, bid rigging and other anticompetitive conduct in the auto parts industry. According to the DOJ, a total of 58 individuals and 37 companies have been charged and have agreed to pay more than $2.6 billion in criminal fines.