Toyo Tire fined $120 mln for price-fixing -U.S. Justice Dept

Reuters

WASHINGTON, Nov 26 (Reuters) - Japan's Toyo Tire & Rubber CoLtd has agreed to plead guilty to fixing some autoparts prices and pay a $120 million criminal fine, the U.S.Justice Department said on Tuesday.

The Justice Department and antitrust enforcers worldwidehave been investigating price fixing of more than 30 types ofcar parts, including seat belts, radiators, windshield wipers,air-conditioning systems, power window motors and power steeringcomponents.

Toyo, which has subsidiaries in Kentucky and Georgia, hasalso agreed to cooperate with the investigation, the departmentsaid in a statement.

Toyo admitted to conspiring to fix the prices ofanti-vibration rubber parts sold to Toyota Motor Corp,Nissan Motor Corp and Fuji Heavy Industries Ltd, the maker of Subaru cars.

"The Toyo Tire group companies have been fully cooperatingwith the DOJ's investigation, and made this decision aftercareful consideration of the applicable laws," the company saidin a statement to shareholders that was posted on its website.

Toyo said it announced on Nov. 12 an extraordinary lossprovision for an alleged U.S. antitrust law violation for therecently ended third quarter, and its financial forecast for thefiscal year ending December 2013, announced on that same date,remains unchanged despite the fine.

It also agreed to plead guilty to fixing the prices ofconstant velocity joint boots sold to GKN Plc. The bootsprotect cars' joints from contaminants.

Thus far, 22 companies have pleaded guilty or agreed toplead guilty in connection with the Justice Department's autoparts price-fixing probe. Twenty-six executives have beencharged.

In some cases, the price-fixing lasted for a decade orlonger. Parts company executives typically met face to face ortalked by phone to reach illegal pricing agreements, the JusticeDepartment said recently.

Among the companies the Justice Department's AntitrustDivision settled with previously were Autoliv Inc, TokaiRika Co Ltd, TRW Deutschland Holding GmbH,Nippon Seiki Co Ltd, Furukawa Electric Co Ltd and Fujikura Ltd.

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