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Japanese Auto Parts Companies To Pay $548M In Fines For Price-Fixing

One of the biggest antitrust investigations in the nation's history has led to fines of $470 million against one Japanese auto parts manufacturer and $78 million against another, the U.S. Justice Department announced today.

"Yazaki Corp. has agreed to pay a $470 million criminal fine — the second-largest criminal fine obtained for a Sherman Act antitrust violation — and Denso has agreed to pay a $78 million criminal fine," as the Detroit News says.

Also, "four executives from Yazaki — Tsuneaki Hanamura, Ryoji Kawai, Shigeru Ogawa and Hisamitsu Takada — will serve prison time ranging from 15 months to two years," theDetroit Free Press writes. It adds that:

"The companies and its executives sold automotive electrical components to automobile manufacturers at inflated prices by holding meetings and conversations to agree on the prices and how to sell the part, the Justice department said."

Investigators say the companies had been colluding since the 1990s. Last fall, the Free Presssays, Furukawa Electric Co. paid a related fine of $200 million. And the newspaper says that:

"The largest antitrust fine levied against a single company occurred in 1999 when Swiss pharmaceutical giant F. Hoffmann-La Roche agreed to pay $500 million for fixing prices on vitamins."

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Mark Memmott is NPR's supervising senior editor for Standards & Practices. In that role, he's a resource for NPR's journalists – helping them raise the right questions as they do their work and uphold the organization's standards.