San Francisco, California - NEC TOKIN Corp. will plead guilty and pay a $13.8 million criminal fine for conspiring with competitors between 2002 and 2013 to fix prices for electrolytic capacitors sold to customers in the United States and elsewhere.
Electrolytic capacitors store and regulate electrical current in electronic products, including computers, televisions, car engine and airbag systems, home appliances and office equipment.
“NEC Tokin and its co-conspirators fixed prices on capacitors, a component used in just about every product that has a battery or a plug,” said Assistant Attorney General Bill Baer. “In announcing our first guilty plea in this ongoing investigation, we are enforcing the principle that American consumers are entitled to competitive markets. We will vigorously investigate and prosecute illegal cartels regardless of where the defendants are located or the products they target.”
“For over a decade and through various financial crises, NEC Tokin has exploited American consumers and fixed the price of capacitors, which are critical to our modern way of electronic life,” said Special Agent in Charge David J. Johnson of the FBI’s San Francisco Division. “This investigation is ongoing and the FBI and DOJ Antitrust Division are dedicated to holding responsible all of the companies that illegally take advantage of customers.”
The one-count felony charge was filed today in the U.S. District Court of the Northern District of California in San Francisco. In addition to pleading guilty to that charge and paying a criminal fine, NEC Tokin, based in Tokyo, has agreed to cooperate in the department’s ongoing investigation. The plea agreement is subject to court approval.
The charge today results from an ongoing federal antitrust investigation into price fixing, bid rigging and other anticompetitive conduct in the capacitor industry conducted by the Antitrust Division’s San Francisco Office and the FBI’s San Francisco Field Office. Anyone with information on price fixing, bid rigging or other anticompetitive conduct related to the capacitors industry should contact the Antitrust Division’s Citizen Complaint Center at 1-888-647-3258, visit www.justice.gov/atr/contact/newcase.html or call the FBI tip line at 415-553-7400.