Toyo Tire & Rubber Co. has reached an agreement to plead guilty to price-fixing charges in the United States as well as pay a $120-million criminal fine for its function in conspiracies involving auto parts, according to the US Justice Department. Toyo has also reached an agreement to cooperate with the probe while it continues, the department said in a statement. Toyo supplied auto anti-vibration rubber parts to Japanese companies Toyota Motor Corp., Nissan Motor Co. and Fuji Heavy Industries Ltd. The charges, which were filed in US District Court in Toledo, Ohio, alleged that Toyo and co-conspirators are involved in the price-fixing conspiracy from March 1996 until at least May 2012.Toyo likewise agreed to plead guilty to fixing prices of constant velocity joint boots sold to GKN Plc and to cooperate with the investigation.
The boots protect cars' joints from contaminants. There have been auto-parts price-fixing investigations not only in the US, but also in other parts of the world like the European Union and Japan. In the US alone, 22 companies and 26 executives have been charged in the ongoing probe, including Toyo.
According to the government, all 22 companies have either pleaded guilty or have agreed to plead guilty and will pay over $1.8 billion in criminal fines. Twenty of the 26 executives have been sentenced to US prisons or have entered into plea deals entailing significant prison sentences. Toyo's involvement in the latest case started to come up in a separate prosecution disclosed last week. This investigation is still ongoing.