Showa latest supplier to plead guilty to price-fixing, will pay $19.9 million

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -- Japan's Showa Corp. has agreed to plead guilty to fixing the prices of electric power steering assemblies and to pay a $19.9 million fine, the Justice Department said today.

From 2007 to 2012, and perhaps longer, Showa worked with other auto parts makers to fix the prices of certain power steering assemblies sold to Honda Motor Co., the department said.

Showa is the latest of more than two dozen companies to plead guilty or agree to plead guilty in the department's long-running investigation of price-fixing in the auto parts industry. Twenty-four executives have agreed to plead guilty. According to Justice Department, more than $2.3 billion in fines have been issued during the investigation.

Law enforcement officials in the United States and elsewhere have so far brought price-fixing cases related to more than 30 types of auto parts, including seat belts, radiators, windshield wipers, air-conditioning systems, power window motors and power steering components.

"Today's guilty plea marks the 27th time a company has been held accountable for fixing prices on parts used to manufacture cars in the United States," said Bill Baer, assistant attorney general in charge of the Department of Justice's Antitrust Division.