February 24, 2010 / 7:31 PM / in 8 years

UPDATE 2-FBI raids 3 Japanese auto parts makers near Detroit

* FBI served search warrants on 3 companies on Tuesday

* Denso, Yazaki International, Tokai Rika served-FBI

* Raids part of antitrust investigation-Justice Dept (Recasts, adds FBI, Justice Department statements)

DETROIT, Feb 24 (Reuters) - The FBI has raided three Detroit-area Japanese auto parts makers for a sealed federal antitrust investigation, including Toyota Motor Corp (7203.T) (TM.N) supplier Denso Corp (6902.T), authorities said on Wednesday.

The FBI’s Detroit Division served warrants at Denso, Yazaki North America and Tokai Rika (6995.T) on Tuesday evening, Special Agent Sandra Berchtold said in a statement. The “substance or reason behind the warrants” was not disclosed.

A person familiar with the investigation said the raids were unrelated to the Toyota recalls.

News of the investigation came as Toyota President Akio Toyoda was set to begin testifying before a congressional panel regarding safety issues with some of the company’s vehicles.

The U.S. Justice Department said it was looking into potential antitrust activity and coordinating its investigation with regulators in Europe.

“The antitrust division is investigating the possibility of anticompetitive cartel conduct of automotive electronic components suppliers,” Justice Department spokeswoman Gina Talamona said.

Denso, which supplies accelerator pedals and other parts to Toyota, confirmed that the raid on its U.S. offices was part of an investigation into alleged antitrust violations and that it was not related to Toyota’s recalls.

Denso spokeswoman Bridgette Gollinger said the company was cooperating with the investigation.

The FBI said the search warrants were executed at Denso’s office in Southfield, Michigan; Yazaki’s offices in Canton, Michigan; and Tokai Rika’s offices in Plymouth, Michigan.

Berchtold said the affidavits behind the warrants were sealed in federal court.

A spokesman for Tokai Rika could not be reached for comment. Yazaki said it would issue a statement shortly.

The FBI raids were first reported by The Wall Street Journal. (Reporting by Kevin Krolicki and Diane Bartz in Washington; David Bailey and Soyoung Kim in Detroit; and James Kelleher in Chicago)

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