NGK Insulators to pay $65.3 million U.S. fine
Japanese auto supplier has agreed to plead guilty and pay a $65.3 million fine for fixing prices of automotive parts and attempting to obstruct the ongoing global investigation into auto parts bid rigging, the U.S. Department of Justice said today.
NGK Insulators Ltd., based in Nagoya, Japan, will plead guilty to one count of conspiracy to fix prices and rig bids for ceramic substrates used in catalytic converters and another felony count of obstruction of justice.
The charges were filed today in U.S. District Court in Detroit. The parts were sold to General Motors, Toyota Motor Corp., Nissan Motor co. and others between 2002 and 2010, the government said.
In addition, NGK was charged with “altering, destroying, mutilating and concealing documents with the intent of impeding the investigation into criminal antitrust violations in the automotive parts industry,” between 2010 and 2012, the government said.
A Justice Department release on the charges said that after NGK became aware of the ongoing antitrust investigation, it and certain of its executives in the U.S. and Japan “deleted and attempted to delete electronic files, destroyed and concealed paper files, removed and replaced high executives’ office computers, removed and concealed electronic files stored on its U.S. office computer system, attempted to destroy paper files located in the U.S.” The company also “engaged in misleading actions and withheld information about the offenses under investigation.”
Calls to NGK Insulators in Tokyo outside of Asian business hours were not immediately returned, Reuters reported. Efforts to locate a U.S. spokesman for the company were unsuccessful.
Japan\\\\\\\'s Nikkei also reported that the Justice Department was expected to prosecute the company\\\\\\\'s former president and two others in connection with the price-fixing plea deal.
Including NGK, 36 companies and 30 executives have pleaded guilty or agreed to plead guilty as part of the ongoing price-fixing investigation, resulting in jail time and more than $2.5 billion in criminal fines. The ongoing automotive parts price-fixing investigation is the largest antitrust investigation in U.S. history.
NGK Insulators is not affiliated with Japan\\\\\\\'s NGK Spark Plug Co., which last year agreed to pay its own $52.1 million fine in the antitrust prosecution.
Similar investigations have been ongoing in Canada, Europe and Asia.