ERJ staff report (AN)
Toledo, Ohio − Bridgestone Corp. has agreed to plead guilty and pay a $425m (€310.3m) criminal fine for its alleged role in a conspiracy to fix the prices of rubber anti-vibration automotive parts, said the US Department of Justice, reported Larry P. Vellequette for Automotive News.
In a one-count indictment filed in US District Court in Toledo, the Tokyo-based supplier was charged with conspiracy for fixing the prices of auto parts sold in the US to several Japanese auto makers between 2001 and 2008.
The $425m (€310.3m) fine agreed to in the plea agreement is large when compared to those levied against the 25 other suppliers that have agreed to plead guilty as part of the ongoing price-fixing investigation. Justice Department officials said that the reason was because Bridgestone had been convicted of similar charges and paid a $28m (€20.4m) fine in 2011 for conspiring to fix prices in the marine hose industry, but failed at that time to disclose its activities in the automotive sector.
"The Antitrust Division will take a hard line when repeat offenders fail to disclose additional anticompetitive behaviour," Brent Snyder, Deputy Assistant Attorney General for the Antitrust Division's criminal enforcement program, said in a written statement. "[This] significant fine reaffirms the division's commitment to holding companies accountable for conduct that harms US consumers."
Bridgestone is the 26th automotive supplier in the US that has agreed to plead guilty to price fixing charges as part of the three-year-old investigation, which has also resulted charges against 28 individuals. In total, the companies and individuals have agreed to pay more than $2bn (€1.46bn) in criminal fines.