2 former Diamond Electric execs to plead guilty in price-fixing scheme

UPDATED: 1/31/14 1:53 pm ET - adds details

DETROIT -- Two former senior-level executives with Japanese supplier Diamond Electric Manufacturing have agreed to plead guilty to felony charges in the ongoing global auto parts price-fixing investigation, the U.S. Department of Justice said today.

Shigehiko Ikenaga and Tatsuo Ikenaga have agreed to enter guilty pleas in U.S. District Court in Detroit for their roles in fixing the prices of ignition coils between 2003 and 2010, the department said. The parts were installed in Ford, Toyota, and Subaru-branded vehicles.

The department said Shigehiko Ikenaga, president of Diamond Electric during the relevant period, agreed to serve 16 months in a U.S. prison. Tatsuo Ikenaga, who had multiple titles including president of Diamond Electric's U.S. operation, managing director and later vice president of the parent company, agreed to serve 13 months as part of a plea agreement.

Both men have agreed to plead guilty to price fixing and bid rigging in violation of the Sherman Antitrust Act, the Justice Department said. They agreed to pay a $5,000 criminal fine and to cooperate with the investigation. On Sept. 10, 2013, Diamond Electric pleaded guilty for its role in the conspiracy and was fined $19 million.

A Diamond Electric spokesman could not be immediately reached for comment.

Including today's charges, 28 individuals and 24 companies have been charged in the government's investigation into price fixing and bid rigging in the auto parts industry.

The government, as of now, stands to collect $1.8 billion in fines from the U.S. automotive supply chain in those price-fixing cases. Two weeks ago, Japanese supplier Koito Manufacturing Co. agreed to pay $56.6 million in fines and plead guilty to fixing the prices of lighting components sold to Toyota.

Similar investigations have been ongoing in Asia and Europe.

And earlier today in Canada, Japan's NSK said it had been ordered to pay a fine of $4.5 million Canadian ($4.03 million), or about 410 million yen, by the province of Quebec on price-fixing charges for bearings used in cars.

The company said it would book the fines as an extraordinary loss in its October-December third quarter, but that the impact on its earnings would be negligible

Reuters contributed to this report.

You can reach Larry P. Vellequette at lvellequette@crain.com -- Follow Larry P. on Twitter: @LarryVellequett

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