Price-fixing fines go to victim fund -- but not for this crime’s victims
Auto companies, suppliers not eligible for chunks of price-fixing fines
DETROIT -- Fines paid by suppliers pleading guilty in the U.S. Department of Justice’s crackdown on price fixing go into the federal Crime Victims Fund.
But automakers, other suppliers and consumers who believe they were hurt by the price-collusion schemes aren’t eligible to tap that fund.
The fund was established in 1984 to fund state, federal and tribal programs such as victim-witness coordinators, counseling services, the Federal Victim Notification System and programs to improve investigations into child abuse and neglect. It collects the funds from antitrust division prosecutions in federal courts.
So far, Furukawa Electric Co. of Tokyo has agreed to pay a $200 million fine as part of a guilty plea in the antitrust investigation; Yazaki Corp. of Tokyo has agreed to pay $470 million; and Denso Corp. of Kariya, Japan, has agreed to pay $78 million.
That combined $748 million in penalties will more than fund this fiscal year’s entire budget of the federal Crime Victims Fund.
The Crime Victims Fund also derives revenue from forfeited bail bonds, penalties on “collateral profits” of crime, special assessments collected through local U.S. attorneys’ offices and federal district courts plus the Federal Bureau of Prisons, and some private gifts and bequests from nonprofits.
While revenue can vary widely with federal prosecutions from year to year, the fund has been capped at $705 million in annual distributions since fiscal 2010. Deposits were just under $1.75 billion in fiscal 2009, the most recent year for which records were immediately available, compared with $896 million in 2008.
Compensation allocations out of the fund are for state programs that assist victims and survivors of crime, including medical and funeral expenses, mental health counseling, loss of wages or other expenses.