UPDATE 2-Japan's Diamond Electric to pay $19 mln for price fixing

Tue Jul 16, 2013 4:28pm EDT

WASHINGTON, July 16 (Reuters) - Japan's Diamond Electric Manufacturing Co Ltd has agreed to plead guilty and pay a $19 million fine for a conspiracy to fix prices of ignition coils sold to Ford Motor Co and other companies, the U.S. Justice Department said on Tuesday.

Diamond is the 10th auto-parts maker to agree to plead guilty in the Justice Department's long-running investigation into price-fixing in the industry.

Separately, an executive with Sweden's Autoliv Inc , Takayoshi Matsunaga, agreed to plead guilty in connection with a conspiracy to fix the prices of seat belts sold to Toyota Motor Corp, the Justice Department said. In return, he will serve one year and a day and pay $20,000 in fines.

Matsunaga, who pleaded guilty to a single felony, is the 15th executive to acknowledge breaking the law as part of the probe.

Diamond Electric, which will cooperate with the Justice Department, agreed to plead guilty to a single felony charges of fixing the prices of ignition coils sold to Ford, Toyota Motor Corp and Fuji Heavy Industries Ltd, the Justice Department said.

The department said the price fixing conspiracy ran from at least July 2003 to at least February 2010.

Diamond Electric said in a statement that it apologized, and had created a compliance program to ensure there would be no repeat of the price-fixing.

"Through the compliance program and strict new policies relating to pricing activities, Diamond Electric is committed to competing aggressively in a free and open ignition coils market around the world," the company said.

The nine auto parts makers that have already pleaded guilty are: Tokai Rika, Autoliv, TRW Deutschland Holding GmbH, Nippon Seiki Co Ltd, Fujikura Ltd, Furukawa Electric Co Ltd, Denso Corp, Yazaki Corp and G.S. Electech.