WASHINGTON—A former executive with a Japanese transplant manufacturer of anti-vibration rubber auto parts has pleaded guilty to conspiracy to fix prices and rig bids within the auto parts industry, the U.S. Department of Justice has announced.
Hiroshi Yoshida entered a guilty plea on one felony count Oct. 30 before the federal district court in Toledo, Ohio. According to the plea agreement, Yoshida agreed to serve a year and a day in prison, pay a $20,000 criminal fine and cooperate with the Justice Department's ongoing investigation of price fixing and bid-rigging. He is scheduled to be formally sentenced on Dec. 20.
So far, Yoshida is the 12th auto parts company executive to plead guilty in the investigation since the first plea agreement was filed in Detroit federal district court on Sept. 29, 2011.
However, his is the first company identified as a manufacturer of rubber auto parts, and also the first in which the Justice Department declined to name the company.
A court document refers to Yoshida's employer as "Company A," based in Saitama Prefecture, Japan, with a subsidiary in Washington Court House, Ohio. Two local Ohio newspapers have reported that company is YUSA Corp., which is based in Washington Court House and is a subsidiary of Yamashita Rubber Co. in Saitama, Japan.
A Justice Department spokesman would not confirm or deny the identity of the company. YUSA executives couldn't be reached for comment.
According to the redacted complaint filed June 15, 2012, in the Toledo court, Yoshida had discussions with competitors about price fixing as early as late 2003 or early 2004, for parts the companies provided to American Honda Motor Co. Inc.
The press release issued Nov. 16 by the Justice Department said Yoshida's involvement in the conspiracy began at least as early as October 2005 and continued until at least 2011.
In the Sept. 29, 2011, plea agreement, Furukawa Electric Co. Ltd., a manufacturer of automotive wire harnesses and related products, agreed to pay a $200 million fine for its involvement in the conspiracy, according to the Justice Department. Three of its executives—Junichi Funo, Hirotsigu Nagata and Tetsuya Ukai—agreed to serve sentences in U.S. prisons ranging from a year and a day to 18 months.
The Justice Department spokesman declined to say whether any further indictments can be expected in this investigation.