A former executive with Japan-based auto supplier Toyoda Gosei Co. Ltd. has agreed to plead guilty to a conspiracy charge and serve just over a year in prison for his role in fixing the price of automotive hoses sold to Toyota.
Makoto Horie, who once served as senior vice president of sales for the Japanese company's Troy, Mich.-based Toyoda Gosei North America unit, will plead guilty to the single count of conspiracy filed today in U.S. District Court in Toledo, Ohio, the U.S. Justice Department said. Horie was with TGNA for parts of 2007 and between January 2008 and January 2010 and employed at the main office in Japan in 2010.
Toyoda Gosei has a variety of plastics processing, both in North America and Japan.
Under the plea agreement, Horie will serve one year and one day in prison and pay a $20,000 fine, the department's antitrust division said.
The plea agreement is notable because, in similar past cases, as many as 20 Japanese supplier executives have remained in Japan and avoided U.S. prosecution. So far, there have been no reports of the U.S. seeking to extradite those individuals.
The department said Horie and others conspired to fix the prices of some automotive hoses sold in the United States to Toyota Motor Corp. and some of its affiliates between March 2007 and September 2010.
The automotive hose case is in addition to an investigation involving airbags and steering wheels. Toyoda Gosei agreed last fall to plead guilty and pay a $26 million criminal fine for its role in price-fixing conspiracies also involving airbags and steering wheels. Toyoda Gosei's media relations office did not immediately respond to an e-mail seeking comment.
So far, 49 individuals and 32 companies have been charged in the government's ongoing investigation into price fixing and bid rigging in the auto parts industry. The companies and individuals have agreed to pay more than $2.4 billion in fines in what is now the largest antitrust investigation in U.S. history.