By Nora Naughton, Crain News Service
DETROIT (May 15, 2015) — A former executive with Japanese supplier T.RAD Co. has been indicted for conspiring to fix prices of radiators sold in the U.S.
Michitaka Sakuma, a former executive managing director for the company, was indicted in U.S. District Court in Detroit May 14 on one charge of conspiring to fix the prices of radiators sold to Honda Motor Co. and Toyota Motor Corp., the U.S. Department of Justice said in a statement.
This violation of the Sherman Act carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $1 million fine.
The Justice Department statement did not indicate Mr. Sakuma's current whereabouts and a spokesman could not be immediately reached for comment. It was not clear whether Mr. Sakuma has retained an attorney. In about 20 past cases, Japanese supplier executives indicted in the U.S. have remained in Japan to avoid prosecution.
The government alleges that Mr. Sakuma and his co-conspirators began participating in price-fixing conspiracy meetings as early as October 2003 and through February 2010. The conspirators allegedly reached agreements to rig bids, allocate supply and fix the price of radiators sold to Honda and Toyota.
In 2013, T.RAD pleaded guilty to involvement in the price-fixing scheme and agreed to pay a $13.75 million fine.
Mr. Sakuma's indictment is part of an ongoing federal probe into price fixing, bid rigging and other anticompetitive conduct in the automotive parts industry. Similar investigations have been ongoing in Canada, Europe and Asia.
Including Mr. Sakuma, 53 individuals have been charged in the U.S. investigation while 35 companies have pleaded guilty or agreed to plead guilty. These companies have agreed to pay a combined total of $2.5 billion in criminal fines — making it the largest antitrust prosecution in U.S. history.
This report appeared on the website of Automotive News, a Detroit-based sister publication of Tire Business.