Stockholm-based Autoliv Inc. has agreed to plead guilty for its role in a conspiracy to fix prices of seatbelts, airbags and steering wheels installed in U.S. cars to one automobile manufacturer and a separate conspiracy to fix prices of seatbelts to another, the Department of Justice announced today. And an executive of Japan-based Yazaki Corporation has agreed to plead guilty for his role in a separate conspiracy to fix prices of automotive wire harnesses and related products installed in U.S. cars.
Autoliv has agreed to pay a $14.5 million criminal fine and to cooperate with the department's ongoing investigation. Kazuhiko Kashimoto, a Yazaki executive, has agreed to serve 14 months in a U.S. prison, to pay a $20,000 criminal fine and to cooperate with the department's ongoing investigation. The plea agreements for both Autoliv and Kashimoto are subject to court approval.
"By meeting in secret and agreeing to allocate the supply of various automotive parts, the conspirators colluded to rip off automotive manufacturers in the United States and abroad," said Scott D. Hammond, Deputy Assistant Attorney General of the Antitrust Division's criminal enforcement program. "These conspiracies eliminated competition and resulted in inflated prices to automotive manufacturers for parts in cars sold to U.S. consumers."
According to a two-count felony charge filed today in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan in Detroit, Autoliv engaged in conspiracies to rig bids for, and to fix, stabilize and maintain the prices of seatbelts, airbags and steering wheels sold to automakers in the United States and elsewhere.
PhotoAccording to court documents, Autoliv's involvement in the conspiracy to fix prices of seatbelts, airbags and steering wheels lasted from at least as early as March 2006 until at least February 2011, and its involvement in the second conspiracy to fix prices of seatbelts lasted from at least as early as May 2008 to at least February 2011. Autoliv and its co-conspirators carried out the conspiracies by agreeing, during meetings and conversations, to allocate the supply of seatbelts, airbags and steering wheels on a model-by-model basis. The department said that Autoliv and the co-conspirators sold the occupant safety parts at noncompetitive prices to automakers in the United States and elsewhere.
According to a one-count felony charge also filed today in the U.S. District Court in Detroit, Kashimoto, along with co-conspirators, engaged in a conspiracy to rig bids for, and to fix, stabilize and maintain the prices of automotive wire harnesses and related products sold to a customer in the United States and elsewhere. Automotive wire harnesses are automotive electrical distribution systems used to direct and control electronic components, wiring and circuit boards. Related products include automotive electrical wiring, lead wire assemblies, cable bond, automotive wiring connectors, automotive wiring terminals, electronic control units, fuse boxes, relay boxes and junction blocks.
Including Autoliv and Kashimoto, six companies and 10 individuals have been charged in the department's ongoing investigation into price fixing and bid rigging in the auto parts industry. Furukawa Electric Co. Ltd, DENSO Corporation, Yazaki Corporation and G.S. Electech Inc. pleaded guilty and were sentenced to pay a total of more than $750 million in criminal fines. Fujikura Ltd has agreed to plead guilty. Additionally, seven of the individuals have been sentenced to pay criminal fines and to serve jail sentences ranging from a year and a day to two years each.