Antitrust Fine for Supplier of Seat Belts
A Japanese seat belt supplier said on Thursday that it had agreed to pay a $71.3 million fine to settle antitrust charges, less than a month after one of its executives was sentenced to prison for fixing the price of auto parts sold in the United States and abroad.
The Takata Corporation is the latest auto parts maker to be charged in what the Justice Department said was its largest criminal antitrust investigation. The inquiry into price-fixing agreements, which began as early as January 2000, has involved authorities worldwide and resulted in more than $1.6 billion in fines since 2011.
Last month, nine Japanese automotive suppliers and two former executives agreed to plead guilty to conspiracy and to pay more than $740 million in criminal fines.
Gary Walker, an American citizen and a former director of sales for Takata, agreed to pay a $20,000 fine and serve 14 months in prison on a one-count felony charge that he engaged in a conspiracy to fix the prices of seat belts sold to Honda, Mazda, Nissan, Subaru and Toyota from at least Jan. 1, 2003, through February 2010.
The Justice Department said Mr. Walker had colluded with other executives, in person and on the phone, to rig bids, fix prices and allocate supply.
The investigation covers more than a dozen separate conspiracies involving more than 30 kinds of auto parts that affected more than $5 billion in sales to Chrysler, Ford and General Motors, as well as the American subsidiaries of Honda, Mazda, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Subaru and Toyota.
Takata produces and sells seat belts, air bags, steering wheels, interior trims and child restraint systems.