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From Antitrust Law Daily, December 06, 2013

Seat belt maker fined $71.3 million in U.S. auto parts probe

By Jeffrey May, J.D.

The federal district court in Detroit yesterday imposed a $71.3 million fine on Japanese seat belt manufacturer Takata Corporation. The fine follows Takata’s agreement to plead guilty to a charge that it conspired to rig bids for seat belts sold to automobile manufacturers. Judgment was entered on December 5 (U.S. v. Takata Corp., Case No. 2:13-cr-20741-LPZ-MAR, Steeh, G.).

In the one-count felony charge, filed by the Department of Justice in the federal district court in Detroit on October 9, it was alleged that Takata participated in the bid rigging conspiracy from approximately 2003 through February 2011. Takata and others allegedly agreed on bids and price quotations to be submitted to auto makers and agreed to allocate the supply of seat belts to those manufacturers. Takata sold seatbelts to Toyota, Honda, Nissan, Mazda, and Fuji Heavy Industries (Subaru), according to the information.

The case against Takata was filed less than a month after a former executive of the company’s U.S. subsidiary, TK Holdings Inc., was charged for his role in the conspiracy. The executive, Gary Walker, agreed to serve 14 months in prison and to pay a $20,000 criminal fine, the Justice Department announced on September 26.

In November, three high-level Takata executives—Yasuhiko Ueno, Saburo Imamiya and Yoshinobu Fujino—agreed to plead guilty for their participation in the conspiracy.

Takata and its subsidiaries have cooperated fully with the Justice Department’s investigation since February 2011, according to a company statement released shortly after the charge was filed. Takata was required to continue cooperating with the government, under the terms of its plea agreement.

Companies: Takata Corp.

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