ERJ staff report (TB)
Toledo, Ohio − Toyo Tire & Rubber Co. Ltd. has pleaded guilty and agreed to pay a $120m (€87.2m) fine in the US as part of a settlement with the US Department of Justice (DOJ) over two separate conspiracies to fix prices of OE automotive components in North America, reported Tire Business.
The case does not involve Toyo Tire North America Inc.
The Justice Department charged Toyo in a two-count felony charge filed in the US District Court for the Northern District of Ohio in Toledo with engaging in a conspiracy to allocate sales of, to rig bids for and to fix the prices of automotive anti-vibration rubber parts.
Toyo sold those parts to Toyota Motor Corp., Nissan Motor Corp., Fuji Heavy Industries Ltd. (Subaru) and some of their subsidiaries, affiliates and suppliers, the complaint said.
Toyo has agreed to cooperate with the department's ongoing investigation. The plea agreement is subject to court approval.
Toyo also was involved in a separate conspiracy from January 2006 until as late as September of 2010 to allocate sales of, and to fix, raise and maintain the prices of automotive constant velocity joint boots it sold to US subsidiaries of GKN PLC, a British automotive parts supplier, according to the charge.
The charges are a result of an ongoing federal antitrust investigation into price fixing, bid rigging and other anticompetitive conduct in the automotive parts industry.
The firm has auto parts manufacturing subsidiaries in Franklin, Kentucky; and White, Georgia.
“Today's charge is the latest step in the Antitrust Division's effort to hold automobile part suppliers accountable for their illegal and collusive conduct,” said Renata B. Hesse, deputy assistant attorney general for the Antitrust Division.
“The division continues to vigorously prosecute companies and individuals that seek to maximise their profits through illegal and anticompetitive means.”
The department said the company and its co-conspirators carried out the conspiracies through meetings and conversations, discussed and agreed upon bids, price quotations and price adjustments, and agreed to allocate among the companies certain sales of the anti-vibration rubber and constant-velocity-joint boots parts sold to automobile and component manufacturers.
With this settlement, the DOJ's investigation into price-fixing in this sector now encompasses 22 companies and 26 executives, the department said.
All 22 companies have either pleaded guilty or have agreed to plead guilty and have agreed to pay more than $1.8bn (€1.3bn) in criminal fines.
Of the 26 executives, 20 have been sentenced to serve time in US prisons or have entered into plea agreements calling for significant prison sentences.