Antitrust Law Daily U.S. charges three more execs in capacitor price-fixing probe
Thursday, December 15, 2016

U.S. charges three more execs in capacitor price-fixing probe

By Greg Hammond, J.D.

A total of nine executives have now been charged with conspiring to fix the prices of electrolytic capacitors sold to customers in the United States, as a result of a second superseding indictment filed yesterday in the federal district court in San Francisco (U.S. v. Matsuzaka, Case No. 15-CR-0163-JD).

Electrolytic capacitors are components of electrical circuits that are used to store and regulate electrical current in various electronic products, such as computers, home appliances, office equipment, televisions, and vehicle engine and airbag systems.

The Department of Justice Antitrust Division originally filed a charge in March 2015, under seal, against Takuro Isawa. A superseding indictment, filed in November, named five additional executives as defendants. Now, with the second superseding indictment, the Antitrust Division alleges that nine executives knowingly entered into and engaged in a combination and conspiracy to suppress and eliminate competition by fixing prices and rigging bids for electrolytic capacitors.

The executives allegedly participated in meetings to discuss prices and bids for electrolytic capacitors; agreed during meetings and conversations to fix the prices and rig bids of electrolytic capacitors; negotiated prices and issued price announcements; manufactured electrolytic capacitors in accordance with those agreements; sold and distributed electrolytic capacitors at the collusive, noncompetitive prices and bids; collected and exchanged information on prices, bids, sales, supply, and demand; authorized the participation of subordinate employees in the conspiracy; and took steps to conceal the conspiracy.

"The executives charged today fixed the prices of an electronic component relied upon by American consumers to power devices that are central to our day-to-day life," stated Deputy Assistant Attorney General Brent Snyder of the Antitrust Division. "The Antitrust Division will continue to pursue executives and companies who conspire to cheat consumers."

The indictment names as defendants: (1) Takeshi Matsuzaka; (2) Kaname Takahashi; (3) Tokuo Tatai; (4) Tomohide Date, who was a manager at NEC TOKIN Corp.; (5) Satoru Miyashita; (6) Yasutoshi Ohno; (7) Masanobu Shiozaki; (8) Kiyoaki Shirotori; and (9) Takuro Isawa.

To date, five companies and nine individuals have been charged for allegedly participating in the same worldwide conspiracy. Most recently, Rubycon Corp. agreed to pay a $12 million fine for its role in the conspiracy. NEC TOKIN Corp. and Hitachi Chemical Co. Ltd. also pleaded guilty to the Justice Department’s charges, agreeing to pay criminal fines of $13.8 million and $3.8 million, respectively. Indictments were also filed against Elna Co., Ltd. and Holy Stone Holdings Co., Ltd.

Companies: Rubycon Corp.; NEC TOKIN Corp.; Hitachi Chemical Co. Ltd.; Elna Co., Ltd.; Holy Stone Holdings Co., Ltd.

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