Car, Tell: Quintet of Safety Suppliers Fined for Price Fixing
It appears the fictional JR Ewing isn’t the only one having to deal with cartels. Antitrust regulators in the EU have fined five safety equipment suppliers a combined 34 million euros ($40 million) for taking part in a scheme to fix prices for seat belts and airbags sold to Japanese automakers.
The cartels were allegedly supplying the safety equipment to Toyota, Suzuki, and Honda at inflated prices between calendar years 2004 and 2010.
Dealerships to Receive $335 Million In Payments Over Supplier Price-fixing Scheme
Roughly 8,000 U.S. dealers will share in a $335 million payday resulting from a colossal 2010 antitrust investigation. The issue? Suppliers were involved in a widespread price-fixing scheme that lasted decades, and nobody noticed until the FBI raided the offices of Yazaki North America Inc., Denso International America Inc. and Tokai Rika Group North America.
In the end, 65 individuals and 47 companies were charged by the Justice Department — resulting in over $2.9 billion in fines and jail time for a swath of fresh white-collar criminals.
However, none of that money made it to manufacturers, dealers, parts retailers, or consumers. Those players had to resort to filing civil suits in federal court against the companies. In 2012, the multitude of claims were consolidated and transferred to Judge Marianne Battani and the U.S. District Court in Detroit. Over $1 billion has been set aside for affected parties, with around $335 million of the sum going to dealerships.
European Raids Expand to Daimler and VW in Automotive Cartel Probe
Following an earlier raid at BMW, Daimler AG and Volkswagen Group were also searched by antitrust officials from the European Union Commission and German government this week. Despite claiming whistleblower status, Daimler is still subject to investigation — though it’s less likely to incur the same financial penalties if the collusion charges go to court.
Over the summer, investigators from the EU stated there would be an investigation into several German carmakers after allegations surfaced that companies conspired to fix prices on various automotive technologies over several decades. But it wasn’t until Monday that officials searched Daimler’s corporate offices and collected documents from Volkswagen’s headquarters in Wolfsburg and at Audi’s home base in Ingolstadt.
BMW Raided in German Cartel Investigation, Daimler Seeks Immunity
Back in July, German authorities became concerned that the country’s manufacturers had been operating one of the largest automotive cartels in history. With many auto executives still under the microscope for diesel emission manipulation, combined with inter-familial strife between the Piech and Porsche clans, Germany’s auto industry was starting to resemble a PG version of the film Goodfellas — with a dash of Dallas, for flavor.
Despite some rather serious accusations, nothing really came of the cartel investigation. We were beginning to wonder if it was much ado about nothing. But Germany’s antitrust officials hadn’t forgotten — they were simply biding their time during preliminary investigations into corporate collusion and price-fixing. Earlier this week, they made their big move and raided BMW’s headquarters.
Volkswagen to Conduct 'Crisis Meeting' Over EU Cartel Allegations, BMW Plays It Cool
Volkswagen will hold an emergency supervisory board meeting on Wednesday to discuss recent allegations that Germany’s automakers have been operating as an automotive cartel since the 1990s. Meanwhile, Daimler’s workers council is demanding answers from management as the automaker reels from a one-two-punch of collusion and emissions cheating accusations.
“I advise the car industry to clear the air now, to say what has happened, and then we can look to the future together again,” parliamentary group leader Volker Kauder, said Monday on German television. “If the antitrust violations prove true, and there’s a lot to suggest that, then one must really say the clear sentence: the rule of law also applies to the car industry.”
However, claiming there is sufficient proof to prosecute is a little premature. With the exception of a somewhat damning letter intercepted from VW, no hard evidence of collusion has been made public. Investigators are still in the early stages of the antitrust probe and have given few details as to its progress.
Mercedes Slapped With $56M Fine in China for "Price Fixing"
The Chinese province of Jiangsu has levied a 350 million yuan ($56 million USD) fine against Mercedes-Benz in continued efforts to break perceived monopolies in car and part sales. It’s the largest fine given to an automaker to date.
Twenty Japanese Execs Hide In Local Exile From US DOJ
At present, 20 Japanese executives are charged with price-fixing by the U.S. Department of Justice. Extradition, however, is proving hard to accomplish.
Nine Japanese Companies, Two Execs to Plead Guilty in Ongoing Auto Parts Price-Fixing and Bid-Rigging Investigation
Source: United States Department of Justice
Nine Japanese auto suppliers and two executives have agreed to plead guilty and pay more than $740 million in fines for participating in a price fixing conspiracy, the U.S. Department of Justice said yesterday. The two executives, one an American citizen, the other Japanese, will have to serve prison terms. According to the DoJ, thirty different components were involved and they were sold to all three domestic automakers as well as the U.S. operations of Honda, Mazda, Mitsubishi, Toyota and Fuji Heavy Industries, which owns the Subaru brand. The automakers have cooperated with the investigation. More than 25 million vehicles sold in the U.S. were affected by the conspiracy, raising costs to automakers and consumers alike, U.S. Attorney General Eric holder told a press conference in Washington yesterday.