By Greg Hammond, J.D.
Automotive parts manufacturer Yamada Manufacturing Co. Ltd. has agreed to plead guilty for participating in a conspiracy to rig bids for and fix prices of manual (non-electric or non-hydraulic powered) steering columns. Yamada will pay a $2.5 million criminal fine (U.S. v. Yamada Manufacturing Co., Ltd., Case No. 1:15-cr-00047-SJD).
The information charges that Yamada entered into and participated in a combination and conspiracy to suppress and eliminate competition in the automotive parts industry by agreeing to rig bids for and fix prices of steering columns sold to Honda in the United States and elsewhere. This conspiracy was an unreasonable restraint of interstate trade and commerce in violation of Section 1 of the Sherman Act, the Justice Department alleged. Yamada purportedly conspired through a meeting and conversations with co-conspirators in which the parties agreed on bids and price quotations to be submitted to Honda. The steering columns were consequently sold to Honda at collusive and non-competitive prices, and the parties allegedly took measures to keep their conduct secret, the information asserted.
“Yamada’s collusion deprived Honda and its U.S. customers the benefits of freely set prices for manual steering columns, a simple but necessary auto part,” stated Assistant Attorney General of the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division, William J. Baer. “Companies that conspire to undermine competition and harm U.S. consumers will continue to be held accountable for their crimes.”
The charges in this case are part of an ongoing federal antitrust investigation into bid rigging, price fixing, and other anticompetitive conduct in the automotive parts industry. To date, including Yamada, 35 companies and 29 executives have pleaded guilty or have agreed to plead guilty to charges of bid rigging and price fixing in the auto parts industry and have collectively agreed to pay over $2.5 billion in criminal fines.
Companies: Yamada Manufacturing Co.
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