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Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Auto Parts Industry Executives Indicted for Obstruction of Justice

More Than 100 Charged in Wide-Spread Auto Parts Investigation

A federal grand jury in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan returned an indictment charging one current automotive parts industry executive and one former automotive parts industry executive with conspiring to obstruct a federal investigation.  The current executive also was charged with attempted obstruction of justice, the Justice Department announced today.

The indictment, filed today in Detroit, charges Futoshi Higashida and Mikio Katsumaru with conspiring to obstruct a federal investigation.  Higashida is also charged with attempted obstruction of justice.  During the charged conspiracy, Katsumaru was employed by an automotive parts company in Japan, and Higashida worked there and in Novi, Michigan, as president of that company’s U.S. joint venture with another company.

According to the indictment, the defendants, along with their co-conspirators, conspired from at least as early as June 2008 until at least September 2012 to delete emails and electronic records and to destroy documents referring to communications with competitors.  In addition, according to the indictment, Higashida instructed another individual on or about September 25, 2012, to ensure that no phone numbers or call records remained on his cellular telephone and that no data remained on his computer that would reflect competitor communications.  The charges contained in the indictment are allegations and not evidence of guilt.  The defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

“Individuals will not escape prosecution by covering up or destroying evidence of their own or their company’s wrong-doing,” said Deputy Assistant Attorney General Brent Snyder of the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division.  “Obstructing a federal antitrust investigation – criminal or civil – is a serious criminal violation that the Antitrust Division will vigorously pursue.”

“Federal investigations are serious matters, and we will pursue any individuals who are involved in destroying evidence to keep it from the FBI,” said Howard S. Marshall, Special Agent in Charge of the Louisville office of the FBI.  “The FBI is committed to aggressively investigating companies and individuals who engage in criminal conduct that corrupts the global marketplace.  We will continue our work with the Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division to uncover schemes aimed at creating an unfair competitive advantage by way of price fixing, bid rigging or other illegal means."

A total of 65 individuals and 46 companies have been charged in the Antitrust Division’s investigations into the automotive parts industry.  This indictment was brought by the Antitrust Division’s Chicago Office and the FBI’s Louisville Field Office, Covington Resident Agency, with the assistance of the FBI’s International Corruption Unit and the U.S. Attorney’s Offices for the Eastern District of Michigan and the Eastern District of Kentucky.  Anyone with information about anticompetitive conduct in the automotive parts industry should contact the Antitrust Division’s Citizen Complaint Center at 888-647-3258, visit www.justice.gov/atr/contact/newcase.html or contact the FBI’s Louisville Field Office at 502-263-6000.

Higashida Indictment

Updated September 22, 2016