Bridgestone Executive to Plead Guilty in Price-Fixing Case

A former Bridgestone Corp. (5108) executive agreed to plead guilty to conspiring to fix prices for auto parts, a day after a grand jury indicted another executive and two former workers at the Japanese tire maker.

Yusuke Shimasaki, who worked as a sales manager and executive vice president, agreed to pay a $20,000 criminal fine and serve 18 months in prison, the Justice Department said in a statement today.

“The charge today once again demonstrates the antitrust division’s vigorous commitment to hold individuals accountable for engaging in anticompetitive conduct,” said Brent Snyder, a deputy assistant attorney general.

The charges stem from a Justice Department investigation into price fixing in the auto-parts industry, which according to the agency has netted more than $2.29 billion in fines. Thirty-three people have been charged, and 26 companies have either pleaded guilty or agreed to do so, the department said.

Bridgestone, based in Tokyo, agreed in February to pay a $425 million fine and plead guilty to a charge it conspired to fix prices. Current Bridgestone manager Yoshiyuki Tanaka and former employees Yasuo Ryuto and Isao Yoshida were indicted yesterday by a federal grand jury in Toledo, Ohio.

The Bridgestone executives are accused of taking part in a scheme to allocate sales and fix prices for automotive anti-vibration rubber parts sold to automakers including Toyota Motor Corp. (7203) and Nissan Motor Co.

Shimasaki participated in the conspiracy from about 2001 until at least December 2008, the Justice Department said. He is no longer employed by the company, spokeswoman Julia Sutherland said in an email.

In a statement yesterday, she said the company will “redouble its efforts to ensure full compliance with all relevant laws and regulations through enhanced education, training and regular internal reviews and assessments.”

The case is U.S. v. Shimasaki, 14-cr-139, U.S. District Court, Northern District of Ohio (Toledo).

To contact the reporters on this story: David McLaughlin in Washington at dmclaughlin9@bloomberg.net; Andrew Harris in federal court in Chicago at aharris16@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Sara Forden at sforden@bloomberg.net; Michael Hytha at mhytha@bloomberg.net David E. Rovella

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