September 2, 2015 / 9:31 PM / 3 years ago

NEC Tokin settles price-fixing charges in U.S.

WASHINGTON, Sept 2 (Reuters) - Japan’s NEC Tokin Corp settled charges on Wednesday that it conspired to fix the prices of electrolytic capacitors, used in autos and electronics, agreeing to plead guilty and to pay a fine of $13.8 million, the Justice Department said.

The capacitors, or condensers, are used in car engines and airbags as well as a broad range of consumer electronics, like computers and televisions, the department said. The guilty plea is the first in the electrolytic capacitor industry, the department said.

“NEC Tokin and its co-conspirators fixed prices on capacitors, a component used in just about every product that has a battery or a plug,” said Assistant Attorney General Bill Baer, who heads the department’s Antitrust Division.

The price-fixing occurred between 2002 and 2013, the department said.

The department has had a long-running investigation into price-fixing of auto parts. Thirty-five companies have pleaded guilty as part of the probe, and more than 50 executives have been charged.

NEC Tokin’s U.S. office declined to comment and its office in Tokyo could not immediately be reached for comment outside of Asian business hours.

The case in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California is United States of America v. NEC Tokin Corp. It is case No. 15-0426. (Reporting by Diane Bartz)

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