Second Company to Plead Guilty in Ongoing Investigation
Hitachi Chemical Co. Ltd. will plead guilty for conspiring with competitors between 2002 and 2010 to fix prices for electrolytic capacitors sold to customers in the United States and elsewhere, the Department of Justice announced today.
“Hitachi Chemical subsidiaries and co-conspirators fixed the prices of capacitors, a fundamental component of widely used electronic products,” said Deputy Assistant Attorney General Brent Snyder. “This is the second guilty plea in this investigation, and we will continue to pursue companies and individuals that conspire to undermine competition for technology components of all shapes and sizes.”
“We will not tolerate the behavior of companies or individuals who attempt to profit unfairly from business practices that ultimately hurt our economy and the consumer,” said Acting Special Agent in Charge Bertram Fairries of the FBI’s San Francisco Division. “We will pursue and bring to justice those who commit these types of crimes.”
Electrolytic capacitors store and regulate electrical current in a variety of electronic products, including computers, televisions, car engine and airbag systems, home appliances and office equipment.
The one-count felony charge was filed today in the U.S. District Court of the Northern District of California in San Francisco. In addition to pleading guilty to that charge and paying a criminal fine, Tokyo-based Hitachi Chemical has agreed to cooperate in the department’s ongoing investigation. The plea agreement is subject to court approval.
On Jan. 21, 2016, NEC TOKIN Corp. pleaded guilty to participating in the same worldwide conspiracy from 2002 to 2013 and was sentenced to pay a fine of $13.8 million. On March 12, 2015, a grand jury indicted Takuro Isawa, a former Global Sales General Manager for one of the capacitor manufacturers, for his participation in the conspiracy.
The charge today results from a federal antitrust investigation being conducted by the Antitrust Division’s San Francisco Office and the FBI’s San Francisco Field Office into price fixing, bid rigging and other anticompetitive conduct in the capacitor industry. Anyone with information related to the focus of this investigation 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 tip line at 415-553-7400.