Diamond Electric Pleads Guilty to Fixing Auto Part Prices

Diamond Electric Manufacturing Co., an Osaka, Japan-based auto-parts maker, agreed to plead guilty to fixing the prices of parts sold to Ford Motor Co. and Toyota Motor Corp., the U.S. Justice Department said.

Diamond Electric, which also agreed to pay a $19 million criminal fine for conspiring to fix prices of ignition coils installed in cars sold in the U.S. and elsewhere, is cooperating with the investigation, the Justice Department said in an e-mailed statement today.

Takayoshi Matsunaga, an executive at Sweden’s Autoliv Inc., also agreed to plead guilty to price fixing, serve a year and a day in a U.S. prison, pay a $20,000 fine and cooperate with investigators, according to the statement.

The guilty pleas are the latest in a U.S. investigation into price fixing and bid rigging in the auto industry and raise the value of criminal fines extracted in the probe to $828 million, the Justice Department said. A total of 10 companies and 15 people have pleaded guilty, the agency said.

“The Antitrust Division and its law enforcement partners will protect American businesses and consumers from harmful price-fixing cartels and bring those responsible to justice,” said Scott Hammond, deputy assistant attorney general of the antitrust division’s criminal enforcement program.

In June 2012, Stockholm-based Autoliv agreed to plead guilty and pay a $14.5 million criminal fine for its role in a conspiracy to fix the prices of seatbelts, airbags and steering wheels installed in U.S. cars, the Justice Department said.

“Those who engage in price fixing, bid rigging and other fraudulent schemes harm the automotive industry by driving up costs for vehicle makers and buyers,” said Robert D. Foley III, special agent in charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Detroit Division.

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