TOKYO (Feb. 13, 2008) — Bridgestone Corp. said it will leave the marine hose business and restructure its Diversified Products Division after an internal investigation uncovered improper payments made to foreign agents.
The company is one of several being investigated by government agencies in the U.S., Europe and Japan over allegations of international cartel activities concerning the sale of marine hose.
Bridgestone said it no longer will take new orders in the marine hose business segment. The company will continue to service existing customers, and help them change to other vendors.
Bridgestone said it will take steps to prevent future violations, including a corporatewide reorganization, which will result in the elimination of the Internal Engineered Products Department, which "was not able to avoid serious illegal actions."
The company said its Diversified Products Division will be altered, combining small products sections into one larger unit. It also will restructure its administration, human resources and audit system
The U.S. Department of Justice, the European Commission and the Fair Trade Commission of Japan have been investigating the firm and other companies since May 2007 on allegations of involvement in international cartel activities regarding the sales of marine hoses. Bridgestone said it cooperating with the investigations.
Improper payments to foreign agents are a serious violation of its compliance rules, Bridgestone said, and it is taking steps to reinforce those policies throughout the company. It has handed over details of its internal investigation to the Japanese authorities, adding that it will cooperate with Japanese prosecutors wish to further pursue the matter.
A series of executives have been charged with anti-competitive offences in the U.S. and the United Kingdom.