Bridgestone executive Yusuke Shimasaki this week pleaded guilty to charges related to an international car part price-fixing and bid-rigging conspiracy. Two other Bridgestone executives, Yasuo Tyuto and Isao Yoshida, were also indicted this week for their roles in the conspiracy.
Shimasaki will serve one year and six months in prison and pay a $20,000 fine. As part of the plea agreement, Shimasaki has agreed to cooperate with the U.S. Department of Justice's investigation into the price-fixing.
Shimasaki pleaded guilty to one charge of price fixing and bid riggin in violation of the Sherman Act. The conviction stems from a wide-ranging conspiracy that Bridgestone Corp. participated in from January 2001 until December 2008. The company met with others during that time to artificially inflate the prices of certain rubber components for vehicles. These rubber parts were then sold to car manufacturers including Nissan, Toyota, and Suzuki. In February Bridgestone was fined $425 million for its part in the collusion.
According to Shimasaki's plea agreement, he participated in the conspiracy from January 2001 until December 2008. He moved up through the company as a Bridgestone sales manager, EVP, and then general sales manager for the company during that time.
Shimasaki is one of 33 different people charged in connection to the price-fixing scandal. In addition, 26 separate companies have been found guilty of participating in the conspiracy. These companies have paid a combined $2.29 billion in fines to the U.S. government. The FBI and Justice Department are continuing to investigate the anticompetitive practices uncovered in automotive industry in recent years.
“The charge today once again demonstrates the Antitrust Division’s vigorous commitment to hold individuals accountable for engaging in anticompetitive conduct,” said Brent Snyder, deputy assistant attorney general for the criminal enforcement program of the Justice Department's Antitrust Division. “The division’s ongoing investigation has resulted in more than two dozen executives serving prison time for their participation in illegal conspiracies involving auto parts.”
Image via Bridgestone