The U.S. Department of Justice today announced that Bridgestone Corp has agreed to plead guilty to charges related to automotive industry price fixing. The company will pay a $425 million fine for colluding to artificially raise prices on certain rubber vehicle parts.
In agreeing to plead guilty, Bridgestone has admitted that it was part of a conspiracy to rig bids and fix prices for anti-vibration rubber parts for cars. These parts were then sold to car companies including Nissan, Suzuki, and Toyota at the inflated prices.
Bridgestone officials met with co-conspirators to discuss prices, set agreed-upon bids, and divide up sales among their companies. According to the charges this method of setting automotive parts prices went on from at least January 2001 until December 2008.
“The illegal activity in this case threatened the basic tenet of free competition,” said Stephen Anthony, special agent in charge with the FBI. “We are pleased with the acceptance of responsibility along with the significant penalty which will be paid by Bridgestone for this conspiracy to fix prices. Together with our partners in the Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division, we will continue to combat illegal practices which threaten consumers across the United States.”
In addition to the fine, Bridgestone has stated that it will cooperate with the larger U.S. investigation into price fixing in the auto industry. Bridgestone is one of 26 companies that have been found guilty of colluding to fix prices for automotive parts. To date the U.S. has recovered more than $2 billion in fines from the companies and prosecuted 28 individuals for their roles in the scandal.