US DoJ fines nine Japanese firms $740m over price-fixing conspiracies

The criminal investigation is the largest carried out by the department’s antitrust division so far.

New Statesman
US Attorney General Eric Holder. Credit: Getty Images.

The US Department of Justice (US DoJ) has imposed a fine of more than $740m on nine Japanese auto parts makers and two executives over price-fixing conspiracies that affected more than $5bn in automobile parts sold to American car makers.

The fined firms and executives have sold more than 30 different aftermarket parts to Chrysler Group, Ford Motor, General Motors, as well as to the US subsidiaries of Honda Motor, Mazda Motor, Mitsubishi Motors, Nissan Motor, Toyota Motor, and Subaru.

The parts sold include seatbelts, radiators, windshield wipers, air conditioning systems, power window motors, power steering parts and other products.

The criminal investigation is the largest carried out by the department’s antitrust division so far, both in terms of its scope and the commerce affected by the alleged illegal conduct.

In total, more than 25 million cars purchased by the US consumers were affected by the illegal conduct.

The department in a statement said: “The conduct this investigation uncovered involved more than a dozen separate conspiracies aimed at the US economy. Although these cartels operated totally independently, they all had one thing in common - they targeted US manufacturing, US businesses and US consumers.”

The department further said “We will continue to check under every hood and kick every tire to make sure we put an end to this illegal and destructive conduct.”

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and other international agencies worked with the department to detect and prosecute the illegal cartels. The charges were filed in the US District Courts of Detroit, Cincinnati, and Toledo, Ohio.

The department charged 20 firms and 21 executives in this ongoing investigation so far with the accused agreeing to pay criminal fine of more than $1.6bn.