Washington, Sep 28 (IANS/EFE) Nine Japan-based companies and two executives have agreed to plead guilty for their role in conspiracies to fix price of parts sold to US automakers, while agreeing to pay over $740 million as fine, the US Justice Department has said.
These illegal cartels adversely affected the business of the big three US automakers, Chrysler, Ford and General Motors, as well as the US subsidiaries of Japanese carmakers Honda, Mazda, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Subaru and Toyota, the Justice Department saiud.
“These international price-fixing conspiracies affected more than $5 billion in automobile parts sold to US car manufacturers.
“In total, more than 25 million cars purchased by American consumers were affected by the illegal conduct,” Attorney General Eric Holder said in a press conference.
The Japan-based company hardest hit by the fines was Hitachi Automotive Systems, which agreed to pay $195 million, while Mitsubishi Electric was slapped with a $190 million fine and Mitsuba with a $135 million fine.
Jtekt and NSK agreed to pay $103 million and $68 million, respectively, while four other companies were fined between $11 million and $14 million.
One of the two former individuals who pleaded guilty to bid rigging and price fixing in the auto-parts industry was Japanese citizen Tetsuya Kunida, a former executive of a U.S. subsidiary of a Japan-based automotive anti-vibration rubber products supplier.
He agree to serve a year in prison and pay a $20,000 fine as part of a plea agreement.
The other individual, American Gary Walker, a former executive of a U.S. subsidiary of a Japanese auto parts supplier, agreed to serve 14 months in prison and pay a $20,000 fine as part of his plea deal.
The Justice Department said the auto parts companies and executives set prices on a wide range of products, including seatbelts, radiators, windshield wipers, air conditioning systems, power window motors and power steering parts.