The U.S. Dept. of Justice (DOJ) is fining nine auto parts suppliers a total of $740 million in what the DOJ described as “separate conspiracies” to fix the prices of more than 30 different products sold to U.S. auto manufacturers and the U.S. subsidiaries of a number of Japanese automakers.

The auto parts suppliers sold these parts to Chrysler, Ford and General Motors and the U.S. subsidiaries of Honda, Mazda, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Toyota and Fuji Heavy Industries (Subaru). The price fixing schemes detailed by the DOJ went on for a decade or longer, according to the DOJ’s Scott D. Hammond, deputy assistant attorney general of the Antitrust Division’s criminal enforcement program.

The auto parts companies that have agreed to plead guilty to the DOJ’s charges include Hitachi Automotive Systems Ltd.; Jtekt Corporation; Mitsuba Corporation; Mitsubishi Electric Corporation; Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd.; NSK Ltd.; T.RAD Co. Ltd.; Valeo Japan Co. Ltd.; and Yamashita Rubber Co. Ltd.

Two executives also plead guilty to the DOJ's charges, including Tetsuya Kunida, a Japanese citizen and former executive of a U.S. subsidiary of a Japan-based automotive anti-vibration rubber products supplier, and Gary Walker, a U.S. citizen and former executive of a U.S. subsidiary of a Japan-based automotive products supplier.

The companies, executives, and co-conspirators involved in the conspiracies fixed prices by attending meetings and communicating via telephone in the U.S. and Japan to rig bids, set prices, and allocate the supply of auto parts sold to automakers, according to the DOJ. In addition, they used code names and met in remote locations to conceal their activities, the DOJ stated.

The DOJ stated it brought the charges as a result of an ongoing federal investigation, being conducted by the FBI's Antitrust Division's criminal enforcement sections, into anticompetitive practices.