Antitrust Law Daily Hitachi Auto Systems to plead guilty, pay $55.48M for price fixing conspiracy
Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Hitachi Auto Systems to plead guilty, pay $55.48M for price fixing conspiracy

By Greg Hammond, J.D.

Hitachi Automotive Systems, Ltd. has agreed to pay a $55.48 million criminal fine and plead guilty to Department of Justice Antitrust Division charges that Hitachi participated in a conspiracy to allocate markets, fix prices, and rig bids for shock absorbers (U.S. v. Hitachi Automotive Systems, Ltd., Dkt. 1:16-cr-00078-MRB).

The Antitrust Division’s information asserts that Hitachi and its related entities manufactured and sold shock absorbers to automobile manufacturers for installation in vehicles manufactured and/or sold in the United States and elsewhere. Hitachi, however, knowingly entered into and engaged in a combination and conspiracy to suppress and eliminate competition in the automotive parts industry by agreeing to allocate markets for, rig bids for, and to fix prices of shock absorbers.

In particular, the Antitrust Division claimed that Hitachi: (1) participated in meetings to discuss the bids and price quotations for the sale of shock absorbers to be submitted to automobile manufacturers; (2) agreed on bids and price quotations for the sale of shock absorbers, to allocate the supply of shock absorbers sold to automobile manufacturers, and to coordinate price adjustments requested by manufacturers; (3) sold and accepted payment for shock absorbers at collusive and noncompetitive prices; and (4) employed measures to keep its conduct secret.

Hitachi pleaded guilty in 2013 and paid a $195 million fine for fixing the prices of starters, alternators, and other electrical automotive parts, according to the Antitrust Division.

"Hitachi Automotive Systems thwarted the competitive process when it fixed the price of shock absorbers," stated Acting Assistant Attorney General Renata Hesse of the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division. "Compounding its error, when it pled guilty in 2013 Hitachi failed to clean house and uncover its participation in the shock absorbers conspiracy. The division will continue to take a hard line when companies fail to uncover additional anticompetitive behavior."

Including Hitachi, 46 companies and 64 executives have been charged in the Antitrust Division’s ongoing investigation into price fixing, bid rigging, and other anticompetitive conduct in the automotive parts industry, and have agreed to pay a total of more than $2.8 billion in criminal fines.

Attorneys: Carla M. Stern, U.S. Department of Justice. Craig P. Seebald (Vinson & Elkins LLP) for Hitachi Automotive Systems, Ltd.

Companies: Hitachi Automotive Systems, Ltd.

MainStory: TopStory Antitrust AntitrustDivisionNews

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