TOLEDO, Ohio—Hitachi Metals Ltd., a Tokyo-based auto parts manufacturer, has agreed to plead guilty and pay a $1.25 million fine for its alleged role in a conspiracy to fix prices and rig bids for automotive brake hose.
The U.S. Justice Department Antitrust Division filed a one-count felony charge and settlement agreement against Hitachi on Oct. 31 in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio in Toledo.
According to the document, Hitachi and its co-conspirators fixed the prices of brake hose sold to Toyota Motor Corp. and Toyota's subsidiaries, affiliates and suppliers.
Hitachi's involvement in the conspiracy lasted from at least November 2005 until at least September 2009, according to the Justice Department.
In addition to pleading guilty and paying the fine, Hitachi also agreed to cooperate fully with Justice Department investigators in their ongoing probe of price fixing among auto parts manufacturers, the agency said. The settlement agreement is subject to court approval.
With Hitachi's guilty plea, 30 auto parts manufacturers have pleaded guilty or agreed to plead guilty in the Antitrust Division's price fixing investigation, the largest in the history of the agency. Those companies have agreed to pay a total of nearly $2.4 billion in fines. Forty-four executives of those companies have also been charged individually for their alleged roles in the conspiracy.
The Antitrust Division and the Federal Bureau of Investigation continue to seek information on price fixing, bid rigging and other illegal, anticompetitive practices in the auto parts industry. Anyone with information on this matter should contact the Antitrust Division's Citizen Complaint Center at 888-647-3258 or at this website. They may also contact the FBI's Cleveland field office at 216-522-1400.