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 or call the  FBI’s Cleveland Field Office at 216-522-1400.

Former Member of Port Authority Board Sentenced to 57 Months in Prison

Robert M. Peto, a former member of the Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority, was sentenced to more than four years in prison today after previously pleading guilty to violating the Hobbs Act, law enforcement officials said today.

Peto, 58, lives in Gates Mills, Ohio. He served as a member of the Port Authority Board between December 2004 through in or around August 2012, according to court documents.

Peto obtained property not due to him or his Port Authority office including free and discounted home improvements and materials, entertainment, and a financial benefit related to a vehicle acquisition, according to court documents.

The property and objects were provided by Michael Forlani and/or Doan Pyramid LLC and Neteam, AVI, companies in which Forlani had an ownership interest, according to court documents.

“This sentence shows the high cost to those who would violate the public’s trust in exchange for personal gain,” said Stephen D. Anthony, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Cleveland Field Office. “Corruption—in this case taking bribes and utilizing his position as a board member for the Port Authority—will not be tolerated.”

The conduct took place between 2004 and October 2, 2007, according to court documents.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Antoinette T. Bacon and Nancy L. Kelley following an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Department of Labor, and Internal Revenue Service–Criminal Investigation.