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From Antitrust Law Daily, November 19, 2015

U.S. auto parts cartel probe reaches interior trim products

By Jeffrey May, J.D.

A Japanese supplier of interior trim products to the automobile industry has agreed to plead guilty and to pay a $2.35 million criminal fine for its role in the latest price fixing conspiracy uncovered as a result of the Department of Justice Antitrust Division's ongoing probe of the automotive parts industry. INOAC Corporation was charged with conspiring to fix prices and rig bids on parts sold to Toyota Motor Corporation. The charge was filed today in the federal district court in Covington, Kentucky (U.S. v. INOAC Corp., Case No. 2:15-cr-00052-DLB).

INOAC's role in the conspiracy was alleged to have lasted from about June 2004 until at least September 2012. The company's co-conspirators were not named. According to the complaint, plastic interior trim automotive products include console boxes, assist grips, registers, center cluster panels, and glove boxes and glove box doors, among others.

“INOAC corrupted the competitive process by agreeing with its competitors to fix the prices of certain automotive parts installed in Toyota cars sold in the United States,” said Brent Snyder, Deputy Assistant Attorney General at the Antitrust Division, in announcing the case. “Working with the FBI and our other law enforcement partners, the Antitrust Division will continue to protect American car buyers and hold automotive part suppliers accountable for their illegal conduct.”

Ongoing auto parts investigation. To date, 58 individuals and 38 companies have been charged in the ongoing investigation into the auto parts industry, according to the Justice Department. This is the first case identifying plastic interior trim automotive products as the subject of one of the price fixing conspiracies.

Companies: INOAC Corp.

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