Washington, DC - Maruyasu Industries Co. Ltd., an automotive parts manufacturer headquartered in the Aichi Prefecture in Japan, pleaded guilty and was sentenced to pay a $12 million criminal fine for its role in a criminal conspiracy to fix prices, rig bids, and allocate customers for automotive steel tubes incorporated into vehicles sold in the United States and elsewhere, the Department of Justice announced Thursday.
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.
Maruyasu pleaded guilty to a charge contained in an Indictment returned by a grand jury on June 15, 2016, in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio. 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.
The Indictment also charged Maruyasu’s wholly-owned U.S. subsidiary, Curtis-Maruyasu America Inc., and sales executives Tadao Hirade, Kazunori Kobayashi, Satoru Murai, and Yoshihiro Shigematsu. Concurrent with the Court’s imposition of the sentence against Maruyasu, the United States moved to dismiss the Indictment as to Curtis-Maruyasu America Inc., Hirade, Kobayashi, and Shigematsu. The sales executives will be required to cooperate with the government in any future prosecutions related to the charged conspiracy.
“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 Assistant Attorney General Makan Delrahim of the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division. “The Division and its law enforcement partners will continue to protect American consumers and the free markets by aggressively prosecuting antitrust crimes.”
“Bid rigging, price fixing and other schemes hurt consumers and undermine our economic system,” said Special Agent in Charge Amy S. Hess of the FBI’s Louisville Field Office. “We will continue our work with the Department of Justice Antitrust Division to uncover schemes aimed at creating an unfair competitive advantage.”
“This plea represents another victory for U.S. consumers and we greatly appreciate the opportunity to partner with the FBI and Department of Justice Antitrust Division in this endeavor,” said Special Agent in Charge Duane Townsend of the Department of Commerce Office of Inspector General.
Today’s plea is the result of an investigation conducted by the Antitrust Division’s Chicago Office, the Department of Commerce Office of Inspector General’s Denver Field Office, and the FBI’s Louisville Field Office, Covington Resident Agency, with assistance from the FBI headquarters’ International Corruption Unit and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Ohio.