By Jeffrey May, J.D.
Maruyasu Industries Co. Ltd., a Japanese automotive parts manufacturer charged in 2016 with conspiring to fix prices, allocate customers, and rig bids for automotive steel tubes, pleaded guilty and was sentenced to pay a $12 million criminal fine today. Maruyasu Industries, its wholly-owned U.S. subsidiary, Curtis-Maruyasu America Inc., and sales executives Tadao Hirade, Satoru Murai, Kazunori Kobayashi, and Yoshihiro Shigematsu were indicted in June 2016. The federal district court in Cincinnati dismissed the indictment against the U.S. subsidiary as well as the executives, as part of the plea agreement (U.S. v. Maruyasu Industries Co. Ltd., Criminal No. 1:16-cr-64).
According to the plea agreement, Maruyasu participated in a conspiracy to suppress and eliminate competition by agreeing to fix prices, allocate customers, and rig bids for automotive steel tubes sold to automobile manufacturers in Japan and incorporated into vehicles sold in the United States, in violation of the Sherman Act. Automotive steel tubes are used in fuel distribution, braking, and other automotive systems and are sometimes divided into two categories—chassis tubes and engine parts. Chassis tubes, such as brake and fuel tubes, tend to be located in the body of a vehicle while engine parts, such as fuel injection rails, oil level tubes, and oil strainer tubes, are associated with the function of a vehicle’s engine.
"The Antitrust Division’s prosecution of widespread collusion in the auto parts industry has yielded more than $2.9 billion in fines and convictions of 46 corporations and 32 executives," said Makan Delrahim, Assistant Attorney General in charge of the Department of Justice Antitrust Division, in announcing the sentencing.
Earlier plea. The Antitrust Division netted a plea from another auto parts supplier as a result of its investigation into a price fixing conspiracy involving automotive steel tubes. The Antitrust Division announced in November 2016 that Usui Kokusai Sangyo Kaisha Ltd. of Japan agreed to plead guilty and to pay a $7.2 million criminal fine for its role in the conspiracy. A one-count felony charge was filed in the federal district court in Cincinnati in that matter.
Attorneys: Andrew K.M. Rosa, U.S. Department of Justice for the United States. Christopher M. Curran (White & Case LLP) for Maruyasu Industries Co., Ltd. Christie A. Moore (Bingham Greenebaum Doll LLP) for Curtis-Maruyasu America, Inc.
Companies: Maruyasu Industries Co. Ltd.; Curtis-Maruyasu America Inc.; Usui Kokusai Sangyo Kaisha Ltd.
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