WASHINGTON (Reuters) -- Two more executives from Japanese auto suppliers have been indicted as part of the U.S. Justice Department's long-running investigation into price-fixing in the auto parts industry, the government said today.
Hiroya Hirose, who works for NSK Ltd, and Masakazu Iwami of Jtekt Corp were indicted on Thursday in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky on charges of conspiring to fix the prices of bearings sold to Toyota Motor Corp., the department said.
Jtekt and NSK last year agreed to plead guilty to price-fixing and to pay criminal fines. Jtekt's fine was $103 million and NSK's was for $68 million, the department said. The Justice Department and Attorney General Eric Holder announced the charges on Jtekt and NSK, and seven others, during a press conference in Washington on Sept. 26, 2013.
All told, 31 suppliers now have either pleaded guilty or agreed to plead guilty to price fixing or other violations of antitrust law. These include Toyoda Gosei Ltd., Autoliv Inc., G.S Electech, Tokai Rika Co. and TRW Deutschland Holding GmbH.
In addition, 46 people, including Hirose and Iwami, have been charged with price fixing as part of the probe, the department said.
The effort has now become the single largest antitrust prosecution in U.S. history, with total settlement agreements worth$2.4 billion. Similar investigations have been under way in the European Union, China, Japan, Canada and Australia.
In its indictment, the Justice Department said that Iwami and other unnamed co-conspirators began to rig bids to sell bearings to Toyota in about 2001, and that Hirose joined the conspiracy in 2006. It went until July 2011, the department said.
Efforts to reach Hirose and Iwami, who are based in Japan, through the companies were not immediately successful.
Automotive News contributed to this report.
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