Auto parts maker pleads guilty to price fixing

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Crain News Service report

WASHINGTON (April 24, 2014) — Showa Corp., an automotive parts manufacturer based in Saitama, Japan, has agreed to plead guilty to price fixing and will pay a $19.9 million fine, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.

The one-count felony charge filed April 23 in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio in Cincinnati said that Showa engaged in a conspiracy to suppress and eliminate competition in the automotive parts industry by agreeing to rig bids for, and to fix, stabilize and maintain the prices of, certain pinion-assist type electric powered steering assemblies sold to Honda Motor Co. Ltd. and some of its U.S. subsidiaries.

“Today’s guilty plea marks the 27th time a company has been held accountable for fixing prices on parts used to manufacture cars in the United States,” said Bill Baer, Assistant Attorney General in charge of the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) Antitrust Division. “The Antitrust Division and its law enforcement partners remain committed to prosecuting illegal cartels that harm U.S. consumers and businesses.”

Showa manufactures and sells pinion-assist-type electric powered steering assemblies, which provide power to the steering gear pinion shaft from electric motors to assist vehicle steering.

From early 2007 to as late as September 2012, Showa and other companies allegedly agreed upon bids and price quotations on pinion-assist type electric powered steering assemblies to be submitted to Honda. Showa then submitted those quotations and sold pinion-assist-type electric powered steering assemblies at collusive, noncompetitive prices.

The DOJ said the conspirators kept their conduct secret by using code names and meeting at remote locations. Showa has agreed to cooperate with the department’s ongoing investigation. The plea agreement will be subject to court approval.

This report appeared on the website of Rubber & Plastics News, an Akron-based sister publication of Tire Business.

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