By Miles Moore, Senior Washington Reporter
TOLEDO, Ohio (April 16, 2014) — One former Bridgestone Corp. executive has pleaded guilty for his alleged involvement in an international conspiracy to rig bids and fix prices for automotive anti-vibration rubber parts, according to a plea agreement filed in Toledo federal district court April 16.
A day earlier, one current and two other former executives of Bridgestone were indicted in the same court for alleged involvement in the same conspiracy, according to the Antitrust Division of the U.S. Department of Justice (THE DOJ).
Yusuke Shimasaki, who served as a sales manager and general sales manager at Bridgestone and as an executive vice president of Bridgestone APM Co. in Findlay, Ohio, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy in the plea agreement. If the agreement is accepted by the court, Mr. Shimasaki will spend 18 months in a U.S. prison, pay a $20,000 fine and cooperate fully in the DOJ's investigation.
The indictment filed in Toledo named Yoshiyuki Tanaka, Yasuo Ryuto and Isao Yoshida as participants in the conspiracy, the agency said.
The court actions come two months after Tokyo-based Bridgestone pleaded guilty in Toledo to one felony count of conspiracy to fix prices for rubber anti-vibration parts. No executives were indicted at that time, but Bridgestone agreed to pay a $425 million fine.
The company posted a special loss of $440 million against its 2013 annual financial results because of the fine. It said at the time, and reiterated April 15, that it will take “appropriate disciplinary action” against all employees involved in the conspiracy.
According to the February and April plea agreements and the new indictments, Bridgestone and the individual executives conspired to suppress and eliminate competition in the anti-vibration rubber parts industry by allocating sales, rigging bids and fixing prices for parts sold worldwide to vehicle manufacturers including Toyota Motor Corp., Nissan Motor Corp., Suzuki Motor Corp. and Fuji Heavy Industries Ltd., which sells cars under the Subaru brand name.