WASHINGTON – The former chairman of a Taiwan aftermarket auto lights manufacturer has agreed to plead guilty for his participation in an international conspiracy to fix the prices of aftermarket auto lights, the Department of Justice today announced. Aftermarket auto lights are incorporated into an automobile after its original sale, often as repairs following a collision or as accessories and upgrades.
According to a one-count felony charge filed today in U.S. District Court in San Francisco, Shiu-Min Hsu conspired with others to suppress and eliminate competition by fixing the prices of aftermarket auto lights. The department said that Hsu, former chairman of Depo Auto Parts Industrial Co. Ltd., a Taiwan manufacturer of aftermarket auto lights, participated in the conspiracy from as early as April 2000 until about Sept. 3, 2008. According to the plea agreement, which is subject to court approval, Hsu has agreed to cooperate with the department’s investigation.
“The international price-fixing conspiracy in the aftermarket auto lights industry caused harm to businesses and consumers,” said Sharis A. Pozen, Acting Assistant Attorney General in charge of the Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division. “Including today’s filing, five individuals and four corporations have been charged as a result of the Antitrust Division’s efforts to thwart this type of anticompetitive activity.”
According to the charge, Hsu and co-conspirators participated in a conspiracy in which the participants met and agreed to charge prices of aftermarket auto lights at certain predetermined levels. According to the court document, the participants in the conspiracy issued price announcements and price lists in accordance with the agreements reached, and collected and exchanged information on prices and sales of aftermarket auto lights for the purpose of monitoring and enforcing adherence to the agreed-upon prices. The department said that the conspirators met in Taiwan and the United States for their discussions.
On March 29, 2011, Polo Shu-Sheng Hsu, the former president and CEO of Maxzone Vehicle Lighting Corp., a U.S. distributor of aftermarket auto lights, was sentenced to serve 180 days in prison and to pay a $25,000 criminal fine for his role in the conspiracy. Chien Chung Chen, aka Andrew Chen, the former executive vice president of Sabry Lee (U.S.A.) Inc., another U.S. distributor of aftermarket auto lights, pleaded guilty for his participation in the conspiracy on June 7, 2011. He is currently scheduled to be sentenced on Oct. 16, 2012. In addition, two corporations have pleaded guilty. On Oct. 4, 2011, Sabry Lee pleaded guilty and was sentenced to pay a $200,000 criminal fine. On Nov. 15, 2011, Maxzone pleaded guilty and was sentenced to pay a $43 million criminal fine.
On Nov. 29, 2011, a federal grand jury returned a superseding indictment charging Eagle Eyes Traffic Industrial Co. Ltd. and its U.S. subsidiary E-Lite Automotive Inc., as well as Eagle Eyes’s two highest-ranking officers, chairman Yu-Chu Lin, aka David Lin, and vice chairman Homy Hong-Ming Hsu. Trial is set for June 18, 2012, in U.S. District Court in San Francisco.
This case is part of an investigation being conducted by the Department of Justice Antitrust Division’s San Francisco Field Office and the FBI in San Francisco. Anyone with information concerning illegal or anticompetitive conduct in the aftermarket auto lights industry is urged to call the Antitrust Division’s San Francisco Field Office at 415-436-6660 or visit www.justice.gov/atr/contact/newcase.htm.