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January 6, 2013

The ABA’s Section of International Law has published its December, 2012 edition of “Hot Topics” in International Antitrust Law, with a short but very interesting discussion of the ongoing auto parts price-fixing investigation: “Lessons to Be Learned from the Antitrust Division’s Criminal Investigation of the Auto Parts Industry” (by J.M. Driscoll-Chippendale of Sheppard Mullin).

Overview:

“The U.S. Department of Justice, Antitrust Division closed another record- breaking year of criminal enforcement in 2011-2012 based in part on its success in prosecuting both companies and individuals in what is known as the “auto parts investigation.”

The origins of the investigation were not particularly exceptional. On February 24, 2010, as most of the automotive industry focused on Toyota President Akio Toyoda’s congressional testimony about safety and recall issues, the FBI and the Division executed search warrants on the U.S. subsidiaries of three auto parts manufacturers—Denso, Yazaki International and Tokai Rika—for allegedly violating Section One of the Sherman Act. But these three raids spawned what has become the largest cartel investigation in the Division’s history with a rumored 64 parts currently under investigation.

The auto parts investigation has exposed a decade-old “keiretsu” of price-fixing and project allocation among some of the most venerable suppliers in Japan. To date, the Division has collected nearly $800 million in fines from its investigation with Yazaki alone paying $470 million. In addition to the corporate penalties, 11 individuals have been prosecuted and received sentences ranging from a year and a day to two years for their respective roles in the cartel.”

For a copy of the full article see: here.

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