Yazaki Corp., the world’s biggest maker of automotive wire harnesses, Leoni AG, and Furukawa Electric Co. were fined a total of 141 million euros ($180 million) in a European Union probe of price-fixing cartels.
Yazaki received the biggest fine of 125.3 million euros and its S-Y Systems Technologies unit was fined another 11.05 million-euros, the EU said in a statement today. Furukawa was fined 4 million euros and Leoni 1.38 million euros.
The EU probe, which is part of a wider crackdown on price fixing in the auto-parts industry, follows raids at makers of wire harnesses, car safety technology, bearings and thermal systems.
The “decision shows the first results in the commission’s wider investigative effort to detect and sanction any illegal cartels in markets for car parts,” EU Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia said in an e-mailed statement. “Such cartels may harm the competitiveness of the automotive industry and artificially inflate prices for final buyers of cars.”
Sumitomo Electric Industries Ltd. escaped a 291.6 million-euro fine for its involvement because it told the European Commission about the cartels. The other companies had their fines reduced by 10 percent because they agreed to settle the case, regulators said.
Toshinori Kimura, a spokesman for Chiyoda-Ku, Japan-based Furukawa Electric, said the company apologized for its role.
“We will continue to strengthen our efforts to develop preventive measures as best as we can so that we could restore our trust,” Kimura said in a phone interview.
Leoni, based in Nuremberg, Germany, said in a statement that it cooperated with the probe and worked to reach a settlement with the EU. Sumitomo Electric said it has implemented internal systems to ensure compliance with antitrust rules.
The companies colluded in five cartels in the supply of wire harnesses to carmakers Toyota Motor Corp., Honda Motor Co., Nissan Motor Co. and Renault SA, the EU said. Wire harnesses control a car’s electrical system, allowing drivers or passengers to start the motor, open windows and switch the air-conditioner on.
The Brussels-based EU watchdog can fine companies as much as 10 percent of yearly sales or require them to change the way they do business if it concludes that they harmed competition.