Japanese cartel collusion: old habits die hard

Japan's Panasonic Corp. is the latest Japanese auto parts supplier to be slapped with a heavy fine for charging inflated prices to US-based automakers. According to the US Department of Justice, Panasonic participated in a conspiracy to rig bids for, and to fix, stabilize and maintain the prices of steering wheel switches, turn switches, wiper switches, combination switches and door courtesy switches sold to Toyota Motor Corp. and Toyota Motor Engineering & Manufacturing North America Inc. in the United States and elsewhere. According to the court document, Panasonic and its co-conspirators carried out the conspiracy from at least as early as September 2003 until at least February 2010. The cost of its misdemeanor? A criminal fine of $45.8 million.

Thus far, eight of the ten other companies that have pleaded guilty or agreed to plead guilty in the auto parts probe hail from Japan. The full list of dishonor is Diamond Electric Manufacturing, Tokai Rika, Nippon Seiki, Fujikura, Furukawa Electric, Denso, Yazaki and G.S. Electech from Japan, and European companies and Autoliv, TRW Deutschland. Products manufactured include ignition coils, wire harnesses, sensors, and seat belt devices....

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