Toyo Tire Agrees to Penalty in Price-Fixing Conspiracy

A Japanese auto parts company agreed to pay a $120 million fine and plead guilty to charges that it fixed prices, becoming the latest supplier charged in the Justice Department’s sweeping antitrust investigation of the auto parts business, the department said on Tuesday.

Toyo Tire and Rubber Company agreed to admit to its role in two conspiracies to fix the prices of anti-vibration rubber and drive shaft components sold in the United States and elsewhere. The Justice Department said Toyo had agreed to cooperate with the investigation and that the plea agreement was subject to court approval.

Toyo is the 22nd company to be charged in the inquiry, which the department says is its largest antitrust investigation, involving authorities from Asia to North America to Europe. All of the companies have pleaded guilty, or agreed to plead guilty, and will pay more than $1.8 billion in criminal fines.

Of the 26 executives charged, 20 have been sentenced to prison or have made plea agreements, according to the department.

“Today’s charge is the latest step in the antitrust division’s effort to hold automobile part suppliers accountable for their illegal and collusive conduct,” Renata B. Hesse, deputy assistant attorney general for the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division, said in a statement.

All together, the investigation involves more than a dozen separate conspiracies to fix the prices of over 30 kinds of parts ultimately sold to Chrysler, Ford and General Motors, as well as the American subsidiaries of Honda, Mazda, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Subaru and Toyota. The scheme affected more than 25 million cars bought in the United States, Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. said in a statement in September.

According to a two-count felony charge in United States District Court for the Northern District of Ohio, Toyo engaged in a conspiracy to allocate sales, rig bids and fix the prices of the anti-vibration rubber parts from as early as March 1996 through May 2012. The company has subsidiaries in Franklin, Ky., and White, Ga.

“The Toyo Tire group companies are committed to ensuring compliance with all laws, and to rebuilding the public’s trust,” the company said in a statement Tuesday evening.

The company said that corporate officers and auditors would forfeit a portion of their compensation. The penalty for corporate officers and directors will range from 10 to 30 percent for one to three months.