Bridgestone Corp. agrees to plead guilty to price fixing on automobile parts
Bridgestone Corp., a Tokyo, Japan-based company, has agreed to plead guilty and to pay a $425 million criminal fine for its role in a conspiracy to fix prices of automobile anti-vibration rubber parts installed in cars sold in the United States and elsewhere, the Department of Justice announced.
According to a one-count felony charge filed in U .S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio in Toledo, Bridgestone engaged in a conspiracy to allocate sales of, to rig bids for and to fix, raise and maintain the prices of automobile anti-vibration rubber parts it sold to Toyota Motor Corp., Nissan Motor Corp., Fuji Heavy Industries Ltd., Suzuki Motor Corp., Isuzu Motors Ltd. and certain of their subsidiaries, affiliates and suppliers in the United States and elsewhere.
In addition to the criminal fine, Bridgestone has also agreed to cooperate with the department’s ongoing auto parts investigations. The plea agreement is subject to court approval.
In October 2011, Bridgestone pleaded guilty and paid a $28 million fine for price fixing and Foreign Corrupt Practices Act violations in the marine hose industry, but did not disclose at the time of the plea that it had also participated in the antivibration rubber parts conspiracy. Bridgestone’s failure to disclose this conspiracy was a factor in determining the $425 million fine.
According to the charges, Bridgestone and its coconspirators carried out the conspiracy through meetings and conversations in which they discussed and agreed upon bids, prices and allocating sales of certain automotive anti-vibration rubber products.
After exchanging this information with its co-conspirators, Bridgestone submitted bids and prices in accordance with those agreements and sole and accepted payments for automotive antivibration rubber parts at collusive and noncompetitive prices. Bridgestone’s involvement in the conspiracy to fix prices of antivibration rubber parts lasted from at least January 2001 until at least December 2008.