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Bridgestone to plead guilty for auto parts price fix scheme: DOJ

A man is reflected in a signboard of Bridgestone Corp at the company's headquarters in Tokyo February 18, 2011. REUTERS/Toru Hanai
A man is reflected in a signboard of Bridgestone Corp at the company's headquarters in Tokyo February 18, 2011. REUTERS/Toru Hanai

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Japan's Bridgestone Corp has agreed to plead guilty and to pay a $425 million criminal fine for its role in a conspiracy to fix prices on certain automotive parts, the U.S. Department of Justice said on Thursday.

The case involved anti-vibration rubber parts sold in the United States and elsewhere to Toyota Motor Corp., Nissan Motor Corp., Fuji Heavy Industries Ltd., Suzuki Motor Corp., Isuzu Motors Ltd. and certain of their subsidiaries and affiliates.

Law enforcement authorities in the United States and elsewhere have so far brought price-fixing cases related to auto parts ranging from seat belts to power window motors.

Including Bridgestone, 26 companies have pleaded guilty or agreed to plead guilty to price fixing or bid rigging. The investigation has levied more than $2 billion in fines.

In October 2011, Bridgestone pleaded guilty and paid a $28 million fine for price-fixing and Foreign Corrupt Practices Act violations in the marine hose industry.

It did not disclose at the time of the plea that it had also participated in the anti-vibration rubber parts conspiracy, the Department of Justice said, and that failure to disclose was a factor in determining the latest fine.

"The Antitrust Division will take a hard line when repeat offenders fail to disclose additional anticompetitive behavior," said Brent Snyder, Deputy Assistant Attorney General for the Antitrust Division's criminal enforcement program.

(Reporting by Ros Krasny; Editing by Doina Chiacu)

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