DETROIT -- The U.S. headquarters of three Japan-based automotive suppliers were searched by FBI agents Tuesday in connection with an international anti-trust investigation.
Denso Corp. in Southfield, Yazaki North America Inc. in Canton, and Tokai Rika Group North America in Plymouth were searched by FBI agents from the Detroit field office on Tuesday, special agent Sandra Burchtold said. All are suppliers to Toyota Motor Corp.
“The anti-trust division is investigating the possibility of anti-competitive cartel conduct of automotive electronic components suppliers,” said Gina Talamona, deputy director of public affairs for the Department of Justice in Washington, D.C. “We are coordinating with the European Commission and other foreign competition authorities.”
Talamona declined to comment further, saying the investigation was ongoing.
Toyota spokeswoman Cindy Knight told The Wall Street Journal the company is trying to determine why the FBI is probing the three suppliers.
"Toyota is aware that certain suppliers have been contacted by government officials, but we have limited information about the scope of the investigation," Knight told the Journal. "Toyota has not been contacted by authorities."
Bridgette LaRose-Gollinger, senior public relations specialist at Denso, said the search was related to “alleged violations of U.S. anti-trust law and Denso is fully cooperating with the investigation.”
Denso is a major supplier electronics supplier, and is one of Toyota Motor Corp.'s primary suppliers. The company supplies a variety of parts and components, including accelerator pedal mechanisms. LaRose-Gollinger said the search was not related to the Toyota recall investigations. She said that the accelerator pedal module Denso supplies Toyota is not involved in the recall.
The FBI searches occurred the same day as U.S. Congressional Committees began hearings investigating Toyota's response to customer complaints about unintended acceleration, which U.S. officials say has caused at least five deaths.