WASHINGTON—Nine Japanese auto parts firms—including Yamashita Rubber Co. Ltd.—have agreed to pay more than $740 million in criminal fines for their roles in an alleged price-fixing cartel, the U.S. Department of Justice announced.
Also, two former auto parts company executives pleaded guilty to conspiracy to fix prices, DOJ said.
The auto parts investigation is the largest criminal investigation DOJ's Antitrust Division has ever pursued, Attorney General Eric Holder said at a Sept. 26 press conference. The price-fixing conspiracy covered more than 30 different types of auto parts, affecting more than $5 billion in auto parts sales to U.S. auto makers and more than 25 million vehicles, Holder said.
"As a result of these conspiracies, Americans paid more for their cars," Holder said. "And American companies such as Chrysler, Ford and General Motors, as well as U.S. subsidiaries of Honda, Mazda, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Subaru and Toyota, were victims of the illegal cartels."
Yamashita agreed to pay an $11 million fine.
Tetsuya Kunida, former executive of a company described only as a U.S. subsidiary of a Japanese manufacturer of rubber anti-vibration parts, agreed to pay a $20,000 fine and serve 12 months and one day in a U.S. prison.
Another executive from an unnamed Japanese transplant, Hiroshi Yoshida, pleaded guilty in October 2012 to one felony count, and agreed to the same sentence as Kunida, and to cooperate with the Justice Department's investigation. Two local Ohio newspapers reported the unnamed company is Yusa Corp., which is based in Washington Court House and is a subsidiary of Yamashita Rubber.
Also, Gary Walker, former executive of an unnamed U.S. subsidiary of another Japanese parts supplier, agreed to pay a $20,000 and serve 14 months in a U.S. prison.
The nine accused companies agreed to pay the following fines:
* Hitachi Automotive Systems Ltd., $195 million;
* Jtekt Corp., $103.27 million;
* Mitsuba Corp., $135 million;
* Mitsubishi Electric Corp., $190 million;
* Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd., $14.5 million;
* NSK Ltd., $68.2 million;
* T.RAD Co. Ltd., $13.75 million; and
* Valeo Japan Co. Ltd., $13.6 million.
Charges were filed Sept. 26 in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan in Detroit, DOJ said. All plea agreement are subject to the Detroit court's approval, it said.