Alpha Corporation Agrees to Plead Guilty in Price-Fixing and Bid-Rigging Conspiracy
Alpha Corporation (Alpha) has agreed to plead guilty and to pay a $9 million criminal fine for its role in a price-fixing and bid-rigging conspiracy involving automotive access mechanisms for installation in cars manufactured and sold in the United States and elsewhere, the Justice Department announced today.
According to a one-count felony charge filed today in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan in Detroit, Japan-based Alpha conspired from at least as early as 2002 until at least September 2011 to fix prices and rig bids for automotive access mechanisms sold to Nissan Motor Co. Ltd. and certain of its subsidiaries, including Nissan North America Inc. Access mechanisms consist of inside and outside door handles, tailgate or trunk handles, keys, lock sets (also called key sets), door locks and electrical and mechanical steering column locks.
“Alpha is the 46th corporation to be charged with participating in an anticompetitive scheme involving auto parts,” said Deputy Assistant Attorney General Brent Snyder of the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division. “The Antitrust Division is committed to uncovering each and every conspiracy to fix prices in the auto parts industry.”
“Crimes of this nature weaken the integrity of the bidding process and deny consumers the benefit of free and open competition in the marketplace,” said Assistant Director in Charge William F. Sweeney Jr. of the FBI’s New York Field Office. “The FBI will continue to work with the Antitrust Division to ensure fair bidding practices are employed across all sectors of our economy.”
The Antitrust Division charges that Alpha and its co-conspirator engaged in meetings and conversations to discuss and agree upon the bids and price quotations to be submitted to Nissan for the sale of access mechanisms. As part of its plea, Alpha has agreed to cooperate in the Division’s ongoing investigation. The plea agreement is subject to court approval.
Today’s charge is the result of 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 criminal enforcement sections and the FBI. Including Alpha, 46 companies and 64 executives have been charged in the division’s investigation and have agreed to pay a total of more than $2.8 billion in criminal fines.
Alpha is being prosecuted by the Antitrust Division’s New York Office and the FBI’s New York Field Office. Anyone with information on price fixing, bid rigging or other anticompetitive conduct related to other products in the automotive parts industry should contact the Antitrust Division’s Citizen Complaint Center at 1-888-647-3258, visit www.justice.gov/atr/contact/newcase.html or call the FBI’s New York Field Office at 212-384-1000.