Japan's Bridgestone admits role in parts price-fixing in United States

Feb. 13, 2014 at 6:47 PM
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TOLEDO, Ohio, Feb. 13 (UPI) -- Bridgestone admits it conspired to fix prices for car parts used in the United States and will pay a $425 million criminal fine, authorities said Thursday.

The Tokyo company has agreed to plead guilty to a single felony charge in U.S. District Court in Toledo, Ohio, the U.S. Justice Department said in a release. The plea is subject to court approval.

The Justice Department said Bridgestone engaged in a conspiracy to allocate sales of, to rig bids for and to fix, raise and maintain prices of automotive anti-vibration rubber parts it sold to Toyota Motor Corp., Nissan Motor Corp., Fuji Heavy Industries Ltd., Suzuki Motor Corp., Isuzu Motors Ltd., and some of their subsidiaries, affiliates and suppliers, in the United States and elsewhere.

Bridgestone has agreed to cooperate with the department's ongoing auto parts investigations.

It is the second guilty plea for Bridgestone in the past three years. Bridgestone paid a $28 million fine in October 2011 for fixing prices of marine hoses, but didn't disclose then it was part of the anti-vibration rubber parts conspiracy from at least January 2001 to at least December 2008, federal prosecutors said.

That was a factor in the stiff fine this time around, they said.

"The Antitrust Division will take a hard line when repeat offenders fail to disclose additional anti-competitive behavior," Brent Snyder, deputy assistant attorney general for the Antitrust Division's criminal enforcement program, said in the release. "Today's significant fine reaffirms the division's commitment to holding companies accountable for conduct that harms U.S. consumers."

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