DETROIT (April 26, 3 p.m. ET) — A second executive at Japanese automotive supplier Denso Corp. will plead guilty to a conspiracy charge in the ever-widening crackdown on price-fixing in several segments of the auto supply chain.
Makoto Hattori, assistant manager and later manager of the Toyota sales division at Denso from 2005-2008, will serve 14 months and pay a $20,000 fine on a charge of conspiracy to restrain trade involving automotive heater control panels, the U.S. Department of Justice Antitrust Division said today.
Denso, the world's second-biggest auto supplier, pleaded guilty on March 5 to a similar charge and agreed to pay $78 million in fines.
By pleading guilty, Hattori joins Norihiro Imai, a Japanese national and Denso executive who agreed in late March to plead to conspiracy to fix prices and rig bids for heater control pads installed in U.S. cars between August 2006 and June 2009. Imai also agreed to pay a $20,000 fine and will serve one year and one day in prison.
Hattori also agreed to cooperate with the Justice Department's ongoing investigation.
Seven other individual executives of Yazaki Corp. and Furukawa Electric Co. Ltd. have entered guilty pleas and will serve a combined 122 months in prison. Their sentences range from a year and a day to about two years in federal prison.
“The Antitrust Division remains committed to holding executives accountable for engaging in illegal conduct that directly impacts the pocketbooks of American consumers and businesses,” Acting Assistant Attorney General Sharis Pozen, who heads the division until next week, said in a statement.
The federal charges filed in court today allege Hattori helped allocate the supply of panels and coordinate price adjustments requested by an automobile manufacturer in the United States and elsewhere.
All told, the fines imposed to date on five automotive suppliers and nine of their executives in the federal prosecution total about $771 million.
Denso ranked No. 2 on the 2011 Automotive News list of the world's largest parts suppliers. The company had an estimated $32.8 billion in sales of original-equipment parts to automakers for 2010.