Japanese throttle-body supplier to plead guilty to price fixing

DETROIT -- Japanese supplier Aisan Industry Co. has agreed to plead guilty and pay a $6.86 million fine for conspiring to fix the prices of throttle bodies sold to Nissan Motor Co. and its subsidiaries, the U.S. Department of Justice said today.

The Toyota-affiliated supplier, based in Obu, Japan, agreed to plead guilty to a single count of conspiracy today in U.S. District Court in Detroit, and to cooperate in the ongoing multi-jurisdictional investigation of price-fixing of automotive parts. In doing so, Aisan becomes the 25th automotive supplier to be charged in the global bid-rigging investigation.

The companies have agreed to pay a total of more than $1.8 billion in fines. Additionally, 28 individuals have been charged.

Similar investigations have been ongoing in North America, Asia and Europe.

Aisan, which generated about $1.07 billion in revenue during its 2013 fiscal year, allegedly conspired with other suppliers to fix the price of electronic throttle bodies sold to Nissan in the United States between October 2003 and February 2010, the department said in a release.

Toyota Motor Corp. owns about 33 percent of Aisan, which is a separate company from Aisin Seiki Co. of Kariya, Japan, the world's fifth-largest supplier, according the Automotive News Data Center.

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

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