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From Antitrust Law Daily, February 5, 2015

Mitsuba execs indicted in U.S. auto parts cartel probe

By Jeffrey May, J.D.

Two employees of Mitsuba Corporation are the latest automotive parts executives to be charged in the U.S. Department of Justice Antitrust Division's investigation of the industry. Today, a Detroit federal grand jury returned a two-count indictment against Hiroyuki Komiya and Hirofumi Nakayama for conspiring to fix the prices of various automotive parts. In addition, the two were charged with obstruction of justice (U.S. v. Komiya, Criminal No. 2:15-cr-20059-VAR-EAS).

The indictment alleges that the defendants participated in the conspiracy with respect to auto parts, including windshield wiper systems and components, sold to auto makers from approximately April 2000 until around February 2010. Komiya and Nakayama purportedly directed, authorized, or consented to the participation of subordinate employees in the conspiracy to rig bids, allocate supply, and fix the price to be submitted to auto makers. Following the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s execution of a search warrant on Mitsuba’s U.S. subsidiary in 2010, Komiya and Nakayama allegedly urged their subordinates to delete and destroy documents related to this collusion. Thus, the government charged the defendants with obstruction of justice.

The government alleges that Komiya participated in the conspiracy as Mitsuba Director of Automotive Sales. In 2007, he was promoted to Executive Managing Officer and Vice President of Sales. Nakayama was the Office Manager of Mitsuba’s Nagoya sales office. In 2005, he was promoted to Sales Operating Officer.

“These charges demonstrate the Antitrust Division’s continued commitment to prosecuting individuals who commit criminal antitrust violations,” said Brent Snyder, Deputy Assistant Attorney General for the Antitrust Division’s Criminal Enforcement Program, in announcing the indictment. “Because these same individuals committed the additional crime of obstructing the investigation, they also serve as cautionary tale for those who are tempted to try to thwart the Antitrust Division’s investigative activities by destroying evidence.”

According to the Justice Department, including Komiya and Nakayama, 52 individuals have been charged in the government’s ongoing antitrust investigation of the auto parts industry. Additionally, 33 companies have pleaded guilty or agreed to plead guilty and have agreed to pay a total of more than $2.4 billion in fines.

Among those companies is Mitsuba, which was sentenced in 2013 to pay a $135 million criminal fine after pleading guilty to its role in the price fixing conspiracy, as well as to an obstruction of justice charge. Last year, Kazumi Umahashi, a former Mitsuba general manager, also agreed to plead guilty and serve prison time for his role in the conspiracy.

Companies: Mitsuba Corp.

MainStory: TopStory Antitrust AntitrustDivisionNews

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