Bridgestone Corp. has agreed to plead guilty and pay a $425 million fine for its role in a conspiracy to fix prices of anti-vibration rubber parts installed in cars sold in the United States and elsewhere, the Department of Justice said Thursday.
The federal agency said Bridgestone and co-conspirators, who were not named, carried out the 2001-2008 conspiracy through meetings and conversations in which they discussed and agreed upon bids, prices and allocating sales of certain anti-vibration rubber products to various car manufacturers.
The company subsequently submitted bids and prices in accordance with those agreements, the agency said.
The Tokyo-based company has agreed to cooperate with the department's ongoing auto parts investigation, the Justice Department said in a statement.
The agency said while Bridgestone pleaded guilty in October 2011 and paid a $28 million fine for price-fixing and Foreign Corrupt Practices Act violations in the marine hose industry, it did not disclose at the time that it also participated in the anti-vibration rubber parts conspiracy, which was a factor in determining the $425 million fine.
“The antitrust division will take a hard line when repeat offenders fail to disclose additional anticompetitive behavior,” Brent Snyder, a deputy assistant attorney general for the federal agency, said in the statement. “Today's significant fine reaffirms the division's commitment to holding companies accountable for conduct that harms U.S. consumers.”
Bridgestone apologized and said it and its subsidiaries have cooperated fully with the federal investigation since learning of it in May 2012.
In a statement, Bridgestone said the investigation made it aware that “certain employees had engaged in certain acts in violation of U.S. antitrust laws from 2001 to 2008.(Bridgestone) is confident that the activities which led to the charges ceased in 2008, following full implementation of Bridgestone's global compliance initiative.”
The company said it will redouble its efforts to comply with “all relevant laws and regulations through enhanced education, training and regular internal reviews and assessments.”
Aside from certain board members and corporate officers forgoing a portion of their bonus and/or compensation that was to be paid in March, Bridgestone also said it will “take appropriate disciplinary action against certain responsible employees in accordance with applicable corporate standards.”