Editor's note: An earlier version of this story incorrectly said that TRW Automotive was part of the original wire harness investigation.
The multinational investigation into price-fixing and bid-rigging in the automotive supply chain dates back at least to February 2010. Here is a compilation of major developments in the investigations.
- European Union antitrust regulators investigate Lear Corp., Leoni AG and other rivals that supply auto electrical distribution systems -- called wire harnesses -- for suspected price fixing.
- Japan's Fair Trade Commission raids the Tokyo offices of Furukawa Electric Co. Ltd., Sumitomo Electric Industries Ltd. and Yazaki Corp. as part of an investigation into alleged collusion dating back to at least 2003.
- FBI agents raid the headquarters of Yazaki North America Inc., Denso International America Inc. and Tokai Rika Group North America.
Sept. 29, 2011
Furukawa agrees to pay a $200 million fine, the largest antitrust penalty in U.S. auto industry history. The company and three of its executives agree to plead guilty in Detroit for their role in global price-fixing among wire harness suppliers on three continents.
Oct. 8, 2011
- Four of the world's top producers of airbags and seat belts -- Autoliv Inc., Takata Corp., TRW and Tokai Rika Co. -- are under investigation for anticompetitive practices in the United States, Europe or Japan.
- European Union regulators raid Sweden's SKF and Germany's Schaeffler as part of a probe into possible anticompetitive activity among makers of ball bearings.
Oct. 13, 2011
Canadian supplier Magna International Inc. says it's cooperating with Justice Department antitrust investigation of the tooling industry. The Justice Department requested documents related to various tooling bids, including a tooling program for which a subsidiary within its Cosma International operating unit acted as Tier 1 tooling supplier.
Oct. 18, 2011
Four federal class actions are filed by three vehicle owners allege that a price-fixing scheme to raise the price of wire harnesses in turn raised the price of their vehicles. Named in the class actions are Lear, Delphi Automotive LLP, Yazaki Corp., Yazaki North America, Furukawa, Leoni, Sumitomo and S-Y Systems Technologies GmbH. The plaintiffs seek penalties exceeding $5 million.
Oct. 24, 2011
Two former Furukawa executives plead guilty to one count each of conspiracy to restrain trade in violation of the Sherman Antitrust Act.
- The Justice Department alleges price fixing in an indictment against Taiwan-based aftermarket headlight maker Eagle Eyes Traffic Industrial Co. Ltd., its chairman and vice chairman and subsidiary E-Lite Automotive Inc. of Chino, Calif.
- A civil suit is filed against Illinois-based Martinez Manufacturing Inc., a former wire harness maker. It appears to be the first prospective class action on behalf of "direct purchasers," or customers of suppliers accused of collusion.
Jan. 30, 2012
- Yazaki and Denso agree to pay $548 million in criminal fines as part of a plea agreement. Four of Yazaki's Japanese executives agree to serve prison time in the United States. Denso was charged with conspiring to charge higher prices on heating-control panels and electronic control units. The Yazaki charges covered wire harnesses and related products.
- To date, the price-fixing probe has generated $748 million in fines.
Japan's Fair Trade Commission investigates four Japanese headlamp makers -- Koito Manufacturing Co., Stanley Electric Co., Mitsuba Corp. and Ichikoh Industries Ltd. -- for price fixing.
April 3, 2012
Japan-based automotive supplier G.S. Electech Inc. agreed to a $2.75 million fine for its involvement in the global wire harness price fixing scandal.
April 23, 2012
Fujikura agrees to plead guilty in U.S. District Court to one count of price fixing. It will pay a $20 million fine for its role in fixing wire harness prices.
June 6, 2012
Autoliv agrees to pay a $14.5 million fine for allegedly conspiring to fix prices of seat belts, airbags and steering wheels installed in U.S. cars for an unidentified automaker, and allegedly conspiring to fix seat belt prices for another. The plea agreement is the first to show that the global antitrust investigation has spread into occupant safety systems.
Aug. 9, 2012
Leoni and other makers of automotive wire harnesses are investigated by the European Union for possible collusion in multiple cartels. The other suppliers are not identified.
May 21, 2013
Two Denso executives agree to plead guilty to conspiring to fix prices and will cooperate with the U.S. investigation. The executives agree to serve time in U.S. prison and pay a criminal fine.
June 10, 2013
Several suppliers, including Lear and Tokai Rika, lose bids have the federal government's federal antitrust lawsuit dismissed or to be removed from the government's probe into wire harness pricing.
July 10, 2013
EU regulators fine four wire harness suppliers -- Yazaki, S-Y Systems, Furukawa Electric and Leoni -- a total of 141.8 euros for taking part in cartels that affected Toyota, Nissan, Honda and Renault.
July 16, 2013
Diamond Electric Manufacturing, a Japanese maker of ignition coils that were sold to Ford, Toyota and Fuji Heavy Industries, agrees to pay the United States a $19 million fine for price fixing.
July 17, 2013
Ford sues Fujikura, saying the supplier and subsidiary Fujikura Automotive America coordinated with other suppliers from January 2000 until at least February 2010 to set artificially high prices on wire harnesses supplied to Ford.
July 18, 2013
- Panasonic Corp. agrees to plead guilty to price-fixing allegations involving parts sold to Toyota, Honda, Mazda and Nissan. Panasonic will pay about a $45.8 million criminal fine. The company agrees to plead guilty to price-fixing on turn, wiper and other switches and steering angle sensors sold to Toyota, among others, and high intensity discharge ballasts sold to Honda, Mazda and Nissan.
- Panasonic subsidiaries Sanyo Electric Co. and LG Chem Ltd plead guilty to fixing prices of cylindrical lithium ion battery cells used in notebook computers. Sanyo agreed to pay $10.7 million and LG Chem $1.1 million.
Sept. 11, 2013
A G.S. Electech executive is indicted by a federal grand jury in the Eastern District of Kentucky for what the Justice Department says was his role in the company's international plot to fix, stabilize and maintain the prices of the wire assemblies sold to Toyota.
Sept. 19, 2013
A federal grand jury in Detroit files charges against two Fujikura executives, accusing them of conspiring to fix prices on wire harnesses sold to Subaru parent Fuji Heavy Industries. The indictment alleges that from September 2005 until at least February 2010 the two executives and other co-conspirators attended meetings in Japan to rig bids of automotive wire harnesses sold to Subaru.
Sept. 24, 2013
A federal grand jury in Detroit indict a Panasonic executive, saying he participated in fixing prices on switches and steering angles sensors for Toyota vehicles. The indictment alleges Kotani and co-conspirators participated in big-rigging meetings in the U.S. and Japan from January 2004 until at least February 2010.
Sept. 25, 2013
Nine Japanese auto suppliers and two executives agree to plead guilty to conspiracy charges and pay more than $740 million in fines for their roles in rigging the prices of 30 products for vehicles built or sold in the United States and elsewhere, the U.S. Department of Justice says. The government said that price-fixed parts were sold to Chrysler, Ford and General Motors, as well as to the U.S. subsidiaries of Honda, Mazda, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Toyota and Fuji Heavy Industries, parent company of Subaru.
The companies' and executives' agreed-upon fines and sentences are:
• Hitachi Automotive Systems to pay a $195 million criminal fine.
• Jtekt Corp. to pay a $103.27 million criminal fine.
• Mitsuba Corp. to pay a $135 million criminal fine.
• Mitsubishi Electric Corp. to pay a $190 million criminal fine.
• Mitsubishi Heavy Industries to pay a $14.5 million criminal fine.
• NSK to pay a $68.2 million criminal fine.
• T.RAD Co. to pay a $13.75 million criminal fine.
• Valeo Japan Co. to pay a $13.6 million criminal fine.
• Yamashita Rubber Co. to pay an $11 million criminal fine.
• Tetsuya Kunida, a Japanese citizen and former executive of a U.S. subsidiary of a Japan-based automotive anti-vibration rubber products supplier to serve 12 months and one day in a U.S. prison, and to pay a $20,000 criminal fine.
• Gary Walker, a U.S. citizen and former executive of a U.S. subsidiary of a Japan-based automotive products supplier to serve 14 months in a U.S. prison, and to pay a $20,000 criminal fine.