Former Denso executive to plead guilty to obstruction in U.S. case

WASHINGTON Thu Feb 20, 2014 1:35pm EST

WASHINGTON Feb 20 (Reuters) - A former director of Japan's Denso Corp has agreed to plead guilty to obstruction of justice in connection with a U.S. Justice Department probe into companies fixing the prices of automobile heater control panels, the department said on Thursday.

Kazuaki Fujitani, whose job was to oversee sales of Denso products to Toyota, deleted emails and other documents after learning in 2010 about the price-fixing investigation in the United States, according to the Justice Department. The documents pertained to discussions between Denso and competitors regarding Toyota's request for price quotes.

Fujitani has agreed to serve one year and one day in a U.S. prison, the Justice Department said.

He is one of three Denso executives who have been charged as part of the investigation. Denso itself had pleaded guilty to price-fixing and agreed to pay a $78 million fine.

Twenty-five other companies have also pleaded guilty. So far, 29 executives have been charged.

Law enforcement authorities in the United States and elsewhere have brought price-fixing cases related to more than 30 car parts, including seat belts, radiators, windshield wipers, air-conditioning systems, power window motors and power steering components.