Mitsubishi Electric Fined Millions for Role in Auto Parts Bid-rigging Conspiracy
A major auto industry supplier has found itself on the receiving end of a multi-million-dollar fine north of the border, following an investigation into an international bid-rigging conspiracy.
The Ontario Superior Court of Justice leveled a fine of $13.4 million against Mitsubishi Electric on Tuesday for its role in the illegal agreement. The supplier pleaded guilty to three charges, making it only the most recent Japanese supplier to face expensive justice for landing a juicy — but dodgy — parts contract.
According to Canada’s Competition Bureau — an independent law enforcement body — Mitsubishi Electric joined a group of Japanese auto parts manufacturers in the conspiracy:
A Bureau investigation determined that Mitsubishi Electric entered into illegal agreements with a competing Japanese car parts manufacturer. The companies conspired to determine who would win certain calls for bids issued by Honda and Ford for the supply of alternators, and by General Motors for the supply of ignition coils. The calls for bids occurred between 2003 and 2006.
The Bureau first learned of the scheme in 2009 through its immunity program. That program provides immunity from prosecution to the first whistleblower involved an illegal corporate operation. Since 2013, the Bureau has issued a total of $84 million in fines to members of the conspiracy.
In April of that year, the Bureau fined Yazaki Corporation $30 million. The supplier has pleaded guilty to bid-rigging for its contract for wire harnesses supplied to Honda and Toyota for the 2006 Honda Ridgeline, 2006 Honda Civic and 2006 Toyota Corolla/Matrix models.
One year ago, the investigation saw a $13 million fine leveled against Showa Corporation. The company supplied electric power steering gears for Honda models produced in Canada between 2007 and 2008.
The same investigation has spilled over into the United States, where last year Nishikawa Rubber Company paid a $130 million fine after rigging bids for body sealing products. In that case, Nishikawa gained a contract with Toyota and Honda lasting from 2000 to 2012.
Eight other suppliers involved in scheme have seen fines from the Competition Bureau over the past four years, including Toyo Tire and Panasonic Corporation.
[Image: goodharbor/ Flickr ( CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)]
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Based on some quick research this isn't a new thing with Japanese part makers, Denso, Yazaki, and others have been involved. What I'm curious about is how frequent these events are, and who else partakes.