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Firm addresses mistakes in aftermath of price-fixing fine

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DOVER, Ohio—Toyoda Gosei Co. Ltd. will pay a $26 million fine after pleading guilty to rig bids and fix prices for parts sold to Japanese auto makers, the U.S. Department of Justice said.

The two-count felony charge was filed by the DOJ on Sept. 29 in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio in Toledo. Toyoda Gosei's plea agreement is pending approval of the Toledo court, the DOJ said.

Toyoda Gosei is taking the steps necessary to move forward. President Tadashi Arashima said there was some reaction from its customers, but the firm is committed to ensuring these kinds of compliance issues don't happen again.

“We are really sorry about this,” the executive said following his tour of recently acquired Meteor Gummiwerke K.H. Badje GmbH & Co. K.G.'s Dover manufacturing plant.

“Controlling these kinds of things was not enough in the past. We've done corrective actions and tried to train our people to make sure that this will never happen again in the future. Compliance issues need to be in Toyoda Gosei's DNA. Every employee has to have this.”

Arashima was adamant about Toyoda Gosei needing to reiterate compliance issues to all of its 30,000 employees, and that the firm already has taken corrective steps through more specific training programs. The executive said the issue will be addressed in his New Year's speech to the company.

“We need to remind everyone in every occasion how important this issue is,” he said.

As far as regaining the trust in the marketplace, Arashima said the only way to do that is to continue producing high quality products and remain faithful to its customer base.

“We need to continue to do the business the best we can and gain our trust back from customers. This is the only way,” he said.

According to the filing, Toyoda Gosei and some of its subsidiaries conspired to rig bids and fix prices for automotive hoses, airbags and steering wheels sold to Toyota Motor Corp. and Fuji Heavy Industries Ltd., which sells vehicles under the Subaru brand name.

The filing said Toyoda Gosei's role in the alleged price fixing conspiracy lasted from at least September 2003 until September 2010.

The DOJ said Toyoda Gosei is the 29th firm to plead guilty in the ongoing federal antitrust investigation into alleged price fixing, bid rigging and other anticompetitive conduct in the automotive parts industry. To date, the DOJ has levied $2.4 billion in fines and charged 43 executives of the accused companies with criminal activities.