The U.S. Justice Department announced Tuesday that two more Japanese auto parts maker, Denso Corp., executives have agreed to plead guilty to fixing prices on electronic car parts sold to Toyota Motor Corp (NYSE:TM). According to Reuters, they agreed to cooperate with an ongoing criminal investigation, and Yuji Suzuki and Hiroshi Watanabe, both Japanese nationals, will spend 16 months and 15 months, respectively, in U.S. prisons. They will also pay a criminal fine of $20,000.
These two plea agreements follow closely on the heels of a guilty plea last year by Denso itself. The company agreed to $78 million in criminal fines after an investigation induced the auto parts company to “[admit] to fixing prices on parts that control interior car temperatures and automotive electronic systems” that were sold to Toyota Motor Corp and a U.S. subsidiary.
The settlement is only one piece of a larger investigation into price fixing for a variety of car parts, involving nine companies and resulting in guilty pleas from 14 executives. Similarly to Denso, Suzuki Motor Corp. agreed to plead guilty to its charge of fixing pricing of electronic control units. While the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division has settled with many of the auto parts makers, the European Commission has a parallel investigation under way.
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