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Auto parts exec indicted in Justice Dept. probe

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DETROIT (June 17, 2014) — A Detroit federal grand jury has indicted a former executive of a Japanese seatbelt manufacturer for participation in a massive conspiracy to fix prices for automotive parts, according to the Antitrust Division of the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ).

Gikou Nakajima, former director of customer relations at Takata Corp., is the 35th auto parts executive to be indicted in an ongoing DOJ investigation of price fixing and bid rigging in the auto parts industry, the agency said. The Detroit jury handed down the one-count indictment against Nakajima June 5.

According to the indictment, Mr. Nakajima allegedly attended meetings with co-conspirators from at least September 2005 until June 2009.

In those meetings, the DOJ claimed, Mr. Nakajima and others reached collusive agreements to rig bids, allocate supply and fix prices of seatbelts sold to Toyota Motor Corp., Honda Motor Co. Ltd., Nissan Motor Co. Ltd., Mazda Motor Co. Ltd. and Fuji Heavy Industries Ltd., which makes and sells vehicles under the Subaru brand name.

Takata Corp. pleaded guilty to involvement in the conspiracy Dec. 5, 2013. It agreed to cooperate fully in the DOJ investigation and pay a criminal fine of $71.3 million.

So far 27 auto parts makers have pleaded guilty in the investigation, paying a total of more than $2.3 billion in fines, according to the DOJ.

Before Mr. Nakajima’s indictment, the most recent action in the investigation was in April 2014, when one former Bridgestone Corp. executive pleaded guilty and three others were indicted on charges of participating in a conspiracy to fix prices for automotive rubber antivibration parts.

Bridgestone pleaded guilty as a corporation in February 2014, and agreed to pay a $425 million fine and cooperate fully in the ongoing investigation.

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