DETROIT (Oct. 25, 1:30 p.m. ET) — One former executive of Furukawa Electric Co. Ltd. hopes to remain in the United States and another to return to Japan after their guilty pleas yesterday to conspiracy to restrain trade on automotive parts in a scheme valued at over $100 million.
Hirotsugu Nagata, 46, former CFO and general manager of sales at Furukawa's Plymouth, Mich.-based U.S. subsidiary, American Furukawa Inc., from 2004 to 2009, entered a guilty plea today before Judge George Steeh of U.S. District Court. He expects to receive 15 months in prison at his sentencing Jan. 11.
Junichi Funo, 41, assistant general manager of Honda sales at American Furukawa until 2009, expects to receive one year and one day in jail.
Under the terms of their pleas, the prosecution will not object to Nagata's request to seek a federal “S visa” for non-U.S. citizens who assist law enforcement in criminal investigations and, in return, are granted temporary residency while they cooperate.
Both men acknowledged meeting with co-conspirators from other companies in a global scheme to fix prices on automotive wire harnesses. The U.S. Department of Justice valued that scheme at more than $100 million.
Nagata has two children in the United States and expects to seek the visa as a possible provisional step toward becoming a citizen, Michael Monico, Nagata's attorney and a partner at Monico, Pavich & Spevack in Chicago, told Steeh.
Prosecutors also will not object to a request by Funo — who, unlike Nagata, relied on an interpreter in court — to serve some of his sentence in Japan under the Justice Department's Office of Enforcement Operations' International Prisoner Transfer Program. Funo's attorney is Donald Klawiter, a partner at Sheppard Mullin Richter & Hampton LLP in Los Angeles.
Furukawa Electric and another former executive, Tetsuya Ukai of the parent company's Honda sales division, have separate court dates in mid-November to enter their own pleas. Furukawa agreed in late September to plead guilty and pay a $200 million fine.
The company is also a defendant in 11 federal lawsuits filed since Oct. 5. Also named in the suits are automotive suppliers Yazaki Corp. and subsidiary Yazaki North America Inc. of Canton Township, Mich.; Southfield, Mich.-based Lear Corp.; Leoni AG of Germany; Troy, Mich.-based Delphi Automotive LLP; Sumitomo Electric Industries Ltd. and S-Y Systems Technologies GmbH.