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From Antitrust Law Daily, December 1, 2017

Japanese auto parts makers found not guilty in U.S. bid rigging case

By Jody Coultas, J.D.

A federal jury has found Japanese companies Tokai Kogyo Co. and Green Tokai Co., Ltd. not guilty of violating Section 1 of the Sherman Act in a suit filed by the Department of Justice Antitrust Division. The 13-day jury trial, which concluded on November 29 with the not guilty verdict, centered on allegations that Japanese automotive parts manufacturers knowingly conspiring to fix prices, allocate customers, and rig bids for automotive parts.

In June 2016, a federal grand jury in Cincinnati charged Tokai Kogyo Co. Ltd., its wholly-owned U.S. subsidiary, Green Tokai Co. Ltd., and Akitada Tazumi with conspiring to fix the prices of automotive body sealing products sold to Honda Motor Company Ltd. for installation in vehicles manufactured and sold in the United States and elsewhere. The conspiracy stemmed from at least as early as March 2008 until at least August 2011.

The companies were the first to be indicted in an ongoing investigation into price fixing, bid rigging, and other anticompetitive conduct in the automotive parts industry. Sixty four individuals and 44 companies have been charged and have agreed to pay more than $2.7 billion in criminal fines.

"Juries never fail to marvel," said Larry Mackey of Barnes & Thornburg, counsel for the defendants. "Faced with foreign language challenges, interpreters and complex facts, this jury – in only a few hours’ time – reached the right result. The Kimura family (owners of Tokai Kogyo) deserves praise for standing tall against the Department of Justice."

Attorneys: Laura H. Manschreck, Andre M. Geverola, Matthew J. McCrobie, Chester C. Choi, and Zoran Tasic for the U.S. Department of Justice. Ralph W. Kohnen (Taft, Stettinius & Hollister LLP) and Larry A. Mackey, Neal A. Brackett, and Meena T. Sinfelt (Barnes & Thornburg, LLP) for Tokai Kogyo Co., Ltd. and Green Tokai Co., Ltd.

Companies: Tokai Kogyo Co.; Green Tokai Co., Ltd.

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