May 31, 2018 / 8:00 PM / in 18 days

Japan's Maruyasu agrees to plead guilty in U.S. to bid rigging, other charges dropped

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Japan’s Maruyasu Industries Co Ltd has agreed to plead guilty to a single charge of bid rigging, while other charges filed against it by the U.S. Justice Department were dropped, the company said on Thursday.

The company was indicted in Ohio in 2016 on charges of rigging bids for steel tubes that automakers use in fuel distribution, braking and other parts of their cars.

The indictments arose from a long-running international antitrust investigation of price fixing in the auto parts industry that has ensnared more than 40 companies and 60 people.

Under a plea agreement, Maruyasu pleaded guilty and was sentenced to pay a $12 million criminal fine, the Justice Department said on Thursday.

For its part, Maruyasu said that it was pleading guilty only to rigging bids to one carmaker in Japan.

“We knew all along that the U.S. regulators would not be able to support their broad allegations,” a Maruyasu spokesperson said in a statement. “We are pleased with this outcome. We do apologize to Nissan, the single customer who was victimized by our misconduct in Japan ten years ago.” 

Under the agreement, the indictment of Maruyasu’s U.S. subsidiary was dropped, as were indictments against several sales executives.

Makan Delrahim, the head of the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division, said it would aggressively prosecute price fixing.

“The Antitrust Division’s prosecution of widespread collusion in the auto parts industry has yielded more than $2.9 billion in fines and convictions of 46 corporations and 32 executives,” he said in a statement.

Reporting by Diane Bartz; editing by Jonathan Oatis

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