HITACHI METALS LTD. AGREES TO PLEAD GUILTY FOR FIXING PRICES AND

WASHINGTON — Hitachi Metals Ltd., an automotive parts manufacturer based in Tokyo, Japan, and successor in interest to Hitachi Cable Ltd. (collectively Hitachi), has agreed to plead guilty and to pay a $1.25 million criminal fine for its role in a conspiracy to fix prices and rig bids for automotive brake hose installed in cars sold in the United States and elsewhere, the Department of Justice announced today.

According to the one-count felony charge filed today in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio in Toledo, Hitachi conspired to fix the prices of automotive brake hose sold to Toyota Motor Corporation and certain of its subsidiaries, affiliates and suppliers, in the United States and elsewhere (collectively Toyota).  In addition to the criminal fine, Hitachi has agreed to cooperate in the department’s ongoing investigation.  The plea agreement will be subject to court approval.

“Today’s guilty plea demonstrates the Antitrust Division’s commitment to hold companies accountable for engaging in illegal anticompetitive conduct,” said Brent Snyder, Deputy Assistant Attorney General for the Antitrust Division’s criminal enforcement program.  “The division is dedicated to its mission to protect U.S. consumers and businesses.”

According to the charge, Hitachi and its co–conspirators conspired through meetings and conversations in which they discussed and agreed upon bids and price quotations to be submitted to Toyota, and to allocate the supply of automotive brake hose to Toyota.  In furtherance of the agreement, Hitachi sold automotive brake hose at non–competitive prices to Toyota in the United States and elsewhere.  Hitachi’s involvement in the automotive brake hose conspiracy lasted from at least as early as November 2005 until at least September 2009.

Hitachi manufactures and sells a variety of automotive parts, including automotive brake hoses, which are flexible hoses that carry brake fluid through the hydraulic brake system of automobiles.  The charges against Hitachi are the latest in the department’s on-going investigation into anticompetitive conduct in the automotive parts industry.  These are the first charges filed relating to automotive brake hose sold to automobile manufacturers.

To date, 44 individuals have been charged in the government’s ongoing investigation into price fixing and bid rigging in the auto parts industry.  Including Hitachi, 30 companies have pleaded guilty or agreed to plead guilty and have agreed to pay a total of nearly $2.4 billion in fines.

Hitachi is charged with price fixing and bid rigging in violation of the Sherman Act, which carries a maximum penalty for corporations of a $100 million criminal fine for each violation.  The maximum fine may be increased to twice the gain derived from the crime or twice the loss suffered by the victims of the crime, if either of those amounts is greater than the statutory maximum fine.

Today’s charge is the result of an ongoing federal antitrust investigation into price fixing, bid rigging and other anticompetitive conduct in the automotive parts industry, which is being conducted by the Antitrust Division’s criminal enforcement sections and the FBI.  Today’s charge was brought by the Antitrust Division’s Chicago Office and the FBI’s Cleveland Field Office, Lima Resident Agency, with the assistance of the FBI headquarters’ International Corruption Unit and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Ohio.  Anyone with information on price fixing, bid rigging and other anticompetitive conduct related to other products in the automotive parts industry should contact the Antitrust Division’s Citizen Complaint Center at 1-888-647–3258, visit www.justice.gov/atr/contact/newcase.html or call the FBI’s Cleveland Field Office at 216-522-1400.

TOYODA GOSEI CO. LTD. AGREES TO PLEAD GUILTY FOR FIXING PRICES AND RIGGING BIDS ON AUTOMOBILE PARTS INSTALLED IN U.S. CARS

WASHINGTON — Toyoda Gosei Co. Ltd., an automotive parts manufacturer based in Aichi, Japan, has agreed to plead guilty and to pay a $26 million criminal fine for its role in conspiracies to fix prices and rig bids for automotive hoses, airbags and steering wheels sold to automobile manufacturers, the Department of Justice announced today.

According to a two-count felony charge filed today in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio in Toledo, Toyoda Gosei conspired to fix the prices of certain automotive hoses sold to Toyota Motor Corp. and certain of its subsidiaries, affiliates and suppliers (collectively Toyota), in the United States; and conspired to fix the prices of automotive airbags and steering wheels sold to Toyota and Fuji Heavy Industries Ltd. and certain of its subsidiaries, affiliates and suppliers, and certain of their subsidiaries, affiliates and suppliers (collectively Subaru), in the United States and elsewhere. In addition to the criminal fine, Toyoda Gosei has agreed to cooperate in the department’s ongoing investigation.  The plea agreement will be subject to court approval.

“When purchasing an automobile, American consumers should feel confident that the sticker price is based on fair market costs to manufacture the vehicle,” said Brent Snyder, Deputy Assistant Attorney General for the Antitrust Division’s criminal enforcement program.  “The Antitrust Division will continue to prosecute cases in the auto parts industry to ensure fair and competitive prices are maintained.”

Toyoda Gosei and its co–conspirators, according to the charges, conspired through meetings and conversations in which they discussed and agreed upon bids and price quotations to be submitted to certain automakers and to allocate the supply of the products to those automakers.  In furtherance of the agreements, Toyoda Gosei sold certain automotive hoses at noncompetitive prices to Toyota in the United States, and sold airbags and steering wheels at noncompetitive prices to Toyota and Subaru in the United States and elsewhere.  Toyoda Gosei’s involvement in the automotive hoses conspiracy lasted from at least as early as February 2004 until at least September 2010 and its involvement in the automotive airbags and steering wheels conspiracy lasted from at least as early as September 2003 until at least September 2010.

Toyoda Gosei manufactures and sells a variety of automotive parts, including certain automotive hoses, airbags and steering wheels. The charges against Toyoda Gosei are the latest in the department’s ongoing investigation into anticompetitive conduct in the automotive parts industry. These are the first charges filed relating to automotive hoses sold to automobile manufacturers.

To date, 43 individuals have been charged in the government’s ongoing investigation into price fixing and bid rigging in the auto parts industry.  Twenty-nine companies, including Toyoda Gosei, have pleaded guilty or agreed to plead guilty and have agreed to pay a total of nearly $2.4 billion in fines.

Toyoda Gosei is charged with price fixing and bid rigging in violation of the Sherman Act, which carries a maximum penalty for corporations of $100 million for each violation.  The maximum fine may be increased to twice the gain derived from the crime or twice the loss suffered by the victims of the crime, if either of those amounts is greater than the statutory maximum fine.

Today’s charge is the result of an ongoing federal antitrust investigation into price fixing, bid rigging and other anticompetitive conduct in the automotive parts industry, which is being conducted by the Antitrust Division’s criminal enforcement sections and the FBI.  Today’s charge was brought by the Antitrust Division’s Chicago Office and the FBI’s Cleveland Field Office, Lima Resident Agency, with the assistance of the FBI headquarters’ International Corruption Unit and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Ohio.  Anyone with information on price fixing, bid rigging and other anticompetitive conduct related to other products in the automotive parts industry should contact the Antitrust Division’s Citizen Complaint Center at 1-888-647–3258, visit www.justice.gov/atr/contact/newcase.html or call the FBI’s Cleveland Field Office at 216-522-1400.

 

Bridgestone Corp. Executive Agrees to Plead Guilty for Fixing Prices and Rigging Bids on Auto Parts Installed in U.S. Cars

A former Bridgestone Corp. executive has agreed to plead guilty and to serve 18 months in a U.S. prison for his role in an international conspiracy to fix prices and rig bids of automotive anti-vibration rubber parts sold in the United States and elsewhere, the Department of Justice announced today.

According to the one-count felony charge filed today in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio in Toledo, Yusuke Shimasaki, along with co-conspirators, engaged in a conspiracy to allocate sales of, to rig bids for, and to fix, raise and maintain the prices of automotive anti-vibration rubber parts sold to Toyota Motor Corp., Nissan Motor Co. Ltd., Fuji Heavy Industries Ltd. – more commonly known by its brand name, Subaru – and certain of their subsidiaries, affiliates and suppliers, in the United States and elsewhere.

According to the charge, Shimasaki participated in the anti-vibration rubber conspiracy from at least as early as January 2001 until at least December 2008.  During that time period, he was employed by Bridgestone as a sales manager, an executive vice president at Bridgestone APM Co., in Findlay, Ohio, and as a general sales manager.  According to the plea agreement, in addition to serving time in prison, Shimasaki has also agreed to pay a $20,000 criminal fine and to cooperate in the department’s investigation.  The plea agreement is subject to court approval.

“The charge today once again demonstrates the Antitrust Division’s vigorous commitment to hold individuals accountable for engaging in anticompetitive conduct,” said Brent Snyder, Deputy Assistant Attorney General for the Antitrust Division’s criminal enforcement program.  “The division’s ongoing investigation has resulted in more than two dozen executives serving prison time for their participation in illegal conspiracies involving auto parts.”

Bridgestone manufactures and sells a variety of automotive parts, including anti-vibration rubber parts, which are comprised primarily of rubber and metal, and are installed in suspension systems and engine mounts as well as other parts of an automobile.  They are installed in automobiles for the purpose of reducing road and engine vibration.  On Feb. 13, 2014, the Department of Justice announced that Bridgestone had agreed to plead guilty and to pay a $425 million criminal fine for its role in the conspiracy.  On April 15, 2014, Yasuo Ryuto, Isao Yoshida, two former executives of Bridgestone Corp., and Yoshiyuki Tanaka, a current executive, were indicted  their roles in a conspiracy to fix prices of automotive anti-vibration rubber parts.

To date, 33 individuals have been charged in the government’s ongoing investigation into price fixing and bid rigging in the auto parts industry.  Additionally, 26 companies have pleaded guilty or agreed to plead guilty and have agreed to pay a total of more than $2.29 billion in fines.

Shimasaki is charged with price fixing and bid rigging in violation of the Sherman Act, which carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $1 million criminal fine for individuals.  The maximum fine for an individual may be increased to twice the gain derived from the crime or twice the loss suffered by the victims of the crime, if either of those amounts is greater than the statutory maximum fine.

Today’s charge is the result of an ongoing federal antitrust investigation into price fixing, bid rigging and other anticompetitive conduct in the automotive parts industry, which is being conducted by each of the Antitrust Division’s criminal enforcement sections and the FBI.  Today’s charge was brought by the Antitrust Division’s Chicago Office and the FBI’s Cleveland Field Office, with the assistance of the FBI headquarters’ International Corruption Unit and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Ohio.  Anyone with information on price fixing, bid rigging and other anticompetitive conduct related to other products in the automotive parts industry should contact the Antitrust Division’s Citizen Complaint Center at (888) 647–3258, visit  www.justice.gov/atr/contact/newcase.html or call the FBI’s Cleveland Field Office at (216) 522-1400.

Three Bridgestone Corp. Executives Indicted for Roles in Fixing Prices and Rigging Bids on Auto Parts Installed in U.S. Cars

A Cleveland federal grand jury returned an indictment against one current executive and two former executives of Bridgestone Corp. for their roles in an international conspiracy to fix prices of automotive anti-vibration rubber parts sold in the United States and elsewhere, the Department of Justice announced today.

The indictment, filed today in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio in Toledo, charges Yoshiyuki Tanaka, Yasuo Ryuto and Isao Yoshida, all Japanese nationals, with participating in a conspiracy to suppress and eliminate competition in the automotive parts industry by agreeing to allocate sales of, to rig bids for, and to fix, raise and maintain the prices of anti-vibration rubber parts sold to Toyota Motor Corp., Nissan Motor Corp., Suzuki Motor Corp., Fuji Heavy Industries Ltd. – more commonly known by its brand name, Subaru – and certain of their subsidiaries, affiliates and suppliers, in the United States and elsewhere.

“Today’s indictment again demonstrates that antitrust violations are not just corporate offenses but also crimes by individuals,” said Brent Snyder, Deputy Assistant Attorney General for the Antitrust Division’s criminal enforcement program.    “The division will continue to vigorously prosecute executives who circumvent the law in order to maximize profits by harming consumers.”

Tanaka was employed by Bridgestone in various positions involving anti-vibration rubber parts sales, including manager at Bridgestone and executive vice-president at Bridgestone’s U.S. subsidiary Bridgestone APM Co., from approximately 1991 through at least February 2011.    He is currently manager of the anti-vibration rubber original equipment international planning section.    Ryuto was employed by Bridgestone in various positions involving anti-vibration rubber parts sales, including general manager and director, from approximately 1991 through at least June 2008; he is no longer employed by the company.    Yoshida was employed by Bridgestone in various positions involving anti-vibration rubber parts sales, including manager and general manager, from approximately 1997 through at least September 2008 ; he is no longer employed by the company.

The indictment alleges that Tanaka, Ryuto, Yoshida and their co-conspirators conducted meetings and communications in Japan to reach collusive agreements regarding the sale of automotive anti-vibration rubber products to automakers in the United States and elsewhere.    The indictment alleges that the conspiracy involved agreements affecting the Tacoma, Camry, Tundra, Sequoia, Corolla, Sienna, Venza and Highlander.    According to the indictment, Tanaka participated in the conspiracy from at least as early as January 2004 until at least June 2008; Ryuto participated in the conspiracy from at least as early as April 2001 until at least May 29, 2008; and Yoshida participated in the conspiracy from at least as early as January 2001 until at least July 2008.

Bridgestone manufactures and sells a variety of automotive parts, including anti-vibration rubber parts, which are comprised primarily of rubber and metal, and are installed in suspension systems and engine mounts as well as other parts of an automobile.    They are installed in automobiles for the purpose of reducing road and engine vibration.    On Feb. 13, 2014, Bridgestone agreed to plead guilty and to pay a $425 million criminal fine for its role in the conspiracy.

To date, 32 individuals have been charged in the government’s ongoing investigation into price fixing and bid rigging in the auto parts industry.    Additionally, 26 companies have pleaded guilty or agreed to plead guilty and have agreed to pay a total of more than $2.29 billion in fines.

Each of the individuals is charged with price fixing and bid rigging in violation of the Sherman Act, which carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $1 million criminal fine for individuals.    The maximum fine for an individual may be increased to twice the gain derived from the crime or twice the loss suffered by the victims of the crime, if either of those amounts is greater than the statutory maximum fine.

Today’s charges are the result of an ongoing federal antitrust investigation into price fixing, bid rigging and other anticompetitive conduct in the automotive parts industry, which is being conducted by each of the Antitrust Division’s criminal enforcement sections and the FBI.    These cases were brought by the Antitrust Division’s Chicago Office and the FBI’s Cleveland Field Office, with the assistance of the FBI headquarters’ International Corruption Unit and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Ohio.    Anyone with information on price fixing, bid rigging and other anticompetitive conduct related to other products in the automotive parts industry should contact the Antitrust Division’s Citizen Complaint Center at 888-647-3258, visit  www.justice.gov/atr/contact/newcase.html or call the FBI’s Cleveland Field Office at 216-522-1400.

Bridgestone Corp. Agrees to Plead Guilty to Price Fixing on Automobile Parts Installed in U.S. Cars

 

WASHINGTON — Bridgestone Corp., a Tokyo, Japan-based company, has agreed to plead guilty and to pay a $425  million criminal fine for its role in a conspiracy to fix prices of automotive  anti-vibration rubber parts installed in cars sold in the United States and  elsewhere, the Department of Justice announced today.

According to a  one-count felony charge filed today in U.S. District Court for the Northern  District of Ohio in Toledo, Bridgestone engaged in a conspiracy to allocate  sales of, to rig bids for and to fix, raise and maintain the prices of automotive  anti-vibration rubber parts it sold to Toyota Motor Corp., Nissan Motor Corp.,  Fuji Heavy Industries Ltd., Suzuki Motor Corp., Isuzu Motors Ltd. and certain  of their subsidiaries, affiliates and suppliers, in the United States and  elsewhere.  In addition to the criminal  fine, Bridgestone also has agreed to cooperate with the department’s ongoing  auto parts investigations.  The plea  agreement is subject to court approval.

In October 2011,  Bridgestone pleaded guilty and paid a $28 million fine for price-fixing and  Foreign Corrupt Practices Act violations in the marine hose industry, but did  not disclose at the time of the plea that it had also participated in the  anti-vibration rubber parts conspiracy.  Bridgestone’s  failure to disclose this conspiracy was a factor in determining the $425  million fine.

“The Antitrust Division will take a hard line when repeat offenders  fail to disclose additional anticompetitive behavior,” said Brent Snyder, Deputy  Assistant Attorney General for the Antitrust Division’s criminal enforcement  program.  “Today’s significant fine  reaffirms the division’s commitment to holding companies accountable for  conduct that harms U.S. consumers.”

According to the  charges, Bridgestone and its co-conspirators carried out the conspiracy through  meetings and conversations in which they discussed and agreed upon bids, prices  and allocating sales of certain automotive anti-vibration rubber products.  After exchanging this information with its  co-conspirators, Bridgestone submitted bids and prices in accordance with those  agreements and sold and accepted payments for automotive anti-vibration rubber  parts at collusive and noncompetitive prices.  Bridgestone’s involvement in the conspiracy to  fix prices of anti-vibration rubber parts lasted from at least January 2001  until at least December 2008.

“The Cleveland  Division of the FBI is committed to aggressively investigating price-fixing and  other antitrust violations,” said Special Agent in Charge Stephen D. Anthony.  “The illegal activity in this case threatened  the basic tenet of free competition.  We  are pleased with the acceptance of responsibility along with the significant  penalty which will be paid by Bridgestone for this conspiracy to fix prices.  Together with our partners in the Department  of Justice’s Antitrust Division, we will continue to combat illegal practices  which threaten consumers across the United States.”

Bridgestone manufactures and sells a variety of  automotive parts, including anti-vibration  rubber parts, which are comprised primarily of rubber and metal, and are  installed in suspension systems and engine mounts as well as other parts of an  automobile.  They are installed in  automobiles for the purpose of reducing road and engine vibration.

Including  Bridgestone, 26 companies have pleaded guilty or agreed to plead guilty in the department’s  ongoing investigation into price fixing and bid rigging in the automotive parts  industry.  The companies have agreed to  pay a total of more than $2 billion in criminal fines.  Additionally, 28 individuals have been  charged.

Bridgestone is  charged with price fixing in violation of the Sherman Act, which carries  maximum penalties of a $100 million criminal fine for corporations.  The maximum fine may be increased to twice the  gain derived from the crime or twice the loss suffered by the victims of the  crime, if either of those amounts is greater than the statutory maximum fine.

Today’s  prosecution is the result of an ongoing federal antitrust investigation into  price fixing, bid rigging and other anticompetitive conduct in the automotive  parts industry, which is being conducted by each of the Antitrust Division’s  criminal enforcement sections and the FBI.  Today’s charge was brought by the Antitrust  Division’s Chicago Office and the FBI’s Cleveland Field Office, with the  assistance of the FBI headquarters’ International Corruption Unit and the U.S.  Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Ohio.  Anyone with information concerning this investigation  should contact the Antitrust Division’s Citizen Complaint Center at  1–888–647–3258, visit www.justice.gov/atr/contact/newcase.html or call the  FBI’s Cleveland Field Office at 216-522-1400.

TWO EXECUTIVES INDICTED FOR ROLES IN FIXING PRICES ON AUTOMOBILE PARTS SOLD TO TOYOTA TO BE INSTALLED IN U.S. CARS

WASHINGTON — A Cleveland federal  grand jury returned an indictment against two executives of a Japanese  automotive supplier for their roles in an international conspiracy to fix  prices of automotive anti-vibration rubber parts sold to Toyota and installed  in U.S. cars, the Department of Justice announced today.

The indictment,  filed yesterday in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio in  Toledo, charges Masao Hayashi and Kenya Nonoyama, both Japanese nationals, with  participating in a conspiracy to suppress and eliminate competition in the  automotive parts industry by agreeing to allocate the supply of, to rig bids  for and to fix, raise and maintain the prices of anti-vibration rubber parts  sold to Toyota Motor Corp., Toyota Motor Engineering & Manufacturing North  America Inc. and affiliated companies (collectively Toyota) for installation in  automobiles manufactured and sold in the United States and elsewhere.

Automotive  anti-vibration rubber products are comprised primarily of rubber and metal, and  include engine mounts and suspension bushings.  They are installed in automobiles for the  purpose of reducing road and engine vibration.

The indictment alleges, among other things, that from as early as March  1996 until at least December 2008, Hayashi and Nonoyama and their co-conspirators  conducted meetings and communications in Japan to reach collusive agreements.  The indictment alleges that the conspiracy  involved agreements affecting the Toyota Corolla, Avalon, Tacoma, Camry,  Tundra, Sequoia, Rav4, Sienna, Venza and Highlander.

“Today’s  indictment reaffirms the Antitrust Division’s commitment to hold executives  accountable for actions that corrupt the competitive landscape and harm  consumers,” said Renata B. Hesse, Deputy Assistant Attorney General for the  Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division.  “The Antitrust Division continues to work  closely with its fellow competition enforcers abroad to ensure that there are  no safe harbors for executives who engage in international cartel crimes.”

Hayashi and  Nonoyama are charged with a violation of the Sherman Act, which carries a  maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $1 million criminal fine for  individuals.  The maximum fine may be  increased to twice the gain derived from the crime or twice the loss suffered  by the victims of the crime, if either of those amounts is greater than the  statutory maximum fine.

Including Hayashi  and Nonoyama, 21 companies and 26 executives have been charged in the Justice  Department’s ongoing investigation into the automotive parts industry.  To date, more than $1.6 billion in criminal  fines have been obtained and seventeen of the charged executives have been  sentenced to serve time in U.S. prisons or have entered into plea agreements  calling for significant prison sentences.

The charges are  the result of an ongoing federal antitrust investigation into price fixing, bid  rigging and other anticompetitive conduct in the automotive parts industry,  which is being conducted by each of the Antitrust Division’s criminal  enforcement sections and the FBI.  Today’s  charges were brought by the Antitrust Division’s Chicago Office and the FBI’s  Cleveland Field Office, with the assistance of the FBI headquarters’  International Corruption Unit and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern  District of Ohio.  Anyone with  information on price fixing, bid rigging and other anticompetitive conduct  related to other products in the automotive parts industry should contact the  Antitrust Division’s Citizen Complaint Center at (888) 647–3258, visit www.justice.gov/atr/contact/newcase.html or call the FBI’s Cleveland Field Office at (216) 522-1400.