WASHINGTON – Tokyo-based Fujikura Ltd. has agreed to plead guilty and to pay a $20 million criminal fine for its role in a conspiracy to fix prices of automotive wire harnesses and related products installed in U.S. cars, the Department of Justice announced today.
According to a one-count felony charge filed today in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan in Detroit, Fujikura 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 an automaker in the United States and elsewhere. According to the charge, Fujikura’s involvement in the conspiracy lasted from at least as early as January 2006 until at least February 2010. According to the plea agreement, which is subject to court approval, Fujikura has agreed to pay a criminal fine and to cooperate with the department’s ongoing investigation.
“The Antitrust Division will remain vigilant in its efforts to detect and prosecute anticompetitive conduct in this important industry, which affects virtually every American consumer,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Sharis A. Pozen in charge of the Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division. “The division has focused its enforcement efforts in industries essential to consumers’ everyday lives, and we, along with our law enforcement partners, have been successful in bringing to justice companies and executives engaged in illegal price fixing conspiracies.”
To date, including Fujikura, eight executives and five companies have been charged and have agreed to plead guilty in the department’s ongoing antitrust investigation into the auto parts industry. Three of the companies have pleaded guilty and have been sentenced to pay criminal fines totaling more than $748 million. Seven of the executives have pleaded guilty and have been sentenced to serve a total of more than 122 months in jail.
Fujikura manufactures and sells automotive wire harnesses, which are automotive electrical distribution systems used to direct and control electronic components, wiring and circuit boards in cars.
According to the charge, Fujikura and its co-conspirators carried out the conspiracy by agreeing, during meetings and conversations in Japan, to allocate the supply of automotive wire harnesses and related products on a model-by-model basis and sold the parts at non-competitive prices to an automaker in the United States and elsewhere.
Fujikura is charged with price fixing in violation of the Sherman Act, which carries a maximum fine of $100 million for corporations. The maximum fine for the company may be increased to twice the gain derived from the crime or twice the loss suffered by the victims of the crime, if either of those amounts is greater than the statutory maximum fine.
The current prosecution arose from an ongoing federal antitrust investigation into price fixing, bid rigging and other anticompetitive conduct in the automotive parts industry, which is being conducted by the Antitrust Division’s National Criminal Enforcement Section and the FBI’s Detroit Field Office with the assistance of the FBI headquarters’ International Corruption Unit. Anyone with information concerning the focus of this investigation is urged to call the Antitrust Division’s National Criminal Enforcement Section at 202-307-6694, visit www.justice.gov/atr/contact/newcase.htm or call the FBI’s Detroit Field Office at 313-965-2323.