The U.S. Department of Justice said that a Denso Corp. executive has entered a deal to serve more than one year in prison and pay a fine of $20,000 as part of a plea agreement for his role in rigging bids for heater control panels. Norihiro Imai, who is a Japanese national, will go before the U.S. District Court in Detroit and will plead guilty to one felony count of price fixing. He will be sentenced to serve in a U.S. prison for one year and one day. The department said that together with the fine, Imai has agreed to cooperate in the ongoing price-fixing investigations of the Justice Department.
According to investigators, Imai was involved in a conspiracy with unknown co-conspirators to rig bids and to fix, stabilize and maintain the prices of heater control panels sold in the U.S. and in other markets.
The department found out that this conspiracy started in August 2006 and had continued until June 2009. Denso spokeswoman Julie Kerr said that the company takes this issue “very seriously” and that is currently taking measures to guarantee that its employees follow all antitrust regulations.
She didn’t say where Imai is presently based. As part of the government’s ongoing probe, eight people (including Imai) and three companies have been charged for alleged price fixing and bid rigging in the auto parts industry. Denso submitted a guilty plead on March 5 and was ordered to pay a criminal fine of $78 million. Denso makes different electrical parts like thermal, powertrain control, electronic and electric systems, small motors and telecommunications. Based in Kariya, Japan, Denso is ranked second on the Automotive News list of the top 100 global suppliers with estimated worldwide parts sales to automakers of $32.9 billion in fiscal 2010.