Two more former Japanese parts execs charged
Washington — The Justice Department’s sweeping worldwide investigation into price fixing in auto parts shows no signs of stopping, with two more Japanese auto parts executives indicted Thursday in Detroit.
The indictment charges Norio Teranishi, formerly of NGK Spark Plug Co. Ltd., and Hisashi Nakanishi of NGK Spark Plug, with conspiring to fix the prices of spark plugs, oxygen sensors, and air-fuel ratio sensors. Parts were sold to the former DaimlerChrysler AG, Ford Motor Co., Subaru, General Motors Co., Honda Motor Co., Nissan Motor Co. and Toyota Motor Corp.
Teranishi was the former general manager of sales and vice-head of the Automotive Component Group at NGK Spark Plug, while Nakanishi was managing director of NGK Spark Plug Europe.
The indictment alleges that from January 2000 and continuing until at least July 2011, Teranishi and Nakanishi conspired to rig bids and fix prices of the parts.
To date, 55 individuals have been charged in the government’s ongoing investigation into market allocation, price fixing and bid rigging in the automotive parts industry. Additionally, 35 companies have pleaded guilty or agreed to plead guilty and have agreed to pay a total of more than $2.5 billion in criminal fines.
“As a result of Antitrust Division’s automotive parts investigation, more than 50 individuals have been held accountable for corrupting the competitive process in this important global market,” said Deputy Assistant Attorney General Brent Snyder of the Antitrust Division’s Criminal Enforcement Program. “The Antitrust Division will continue to vigorously prosecute those individuals who engaged in criminal antitrust violations in this vital market.”
“The criminal manipulation of the global automotive parts market through price fixing and bid rigging is a serious offense,” stated Special Agent in Charge Paul M. Abbate of the FBI’s Detroit Field Office. The FBI “will continue to aggressively pursue those who seek to commit criminal antitrust violations in order to gain a competitive advantage through corruption of the global marketplace,” he said.
NGK Spark Plug pleaded guilty and agreed to pay a $52.1 million criminal fine for its role in the conspiracy last year.
In 2013, the Justice Department said the international price fixing conspiracies affected more than $5 billion in automobile parts served to U.S. car manufacturers; in total, more than 25 million cars purchased by American consumers were affected, then-Attorney General Eric Holder said.
Auto supplier price fixing is being investigated by officials in the U.S., Europe, Australia, South Korea, Japan and Canada. A Justice Department investigation first came to light with search warrants executed by the FBI in early 2010 at the Metro Detroit U.S. headquarters of three Japanese suppliers.