WASHINGTON -- German supplier Kiekert AG, which makes car locks and door latches for Ford Motor Co. and other automakers, has agreed to plead guilty to bid-rigging and to pay a $6.1 million fine, the Justice Department said on Tuesday.
Kiekert was part of a conspiracy to rig bids for parts sold to Ford between mid-2008 and mid-2013, the department said. The company will plead guilty to one criminal count in U.S. District Court in Detroit.
"Kiekert regrets the actions that led to the settlement (Plea Agreement) with the American authorities (DOJ)," the company said in a statement Tuesday. "Kiekert has conducted an extensive internal investigation and has cooperated actively and fully with the authorities at all times.
"Moreover, we have strengthened our internal controls and further intensified training measures for our employees worldwide. Kiekert does not tolerate behavior that contravenes the law or regulations. We continue our unequivocal commitment to free and fair competition."
The agreement is the latest in the government's long-running investigation of price-fixing and bid-rigging in the U.S. automotive supply chain -- the largest prosecution of its kind in U.S. regulatory history.
Similar investigations have taken place in Europe and Asia. The Justice Department said 48 companies including Kiekert, along with 65 executives, have been charged in the ongoing investigation and have agreed to more than $2.9 billion in criminal fines.
In addition to the criminal fine, Kiekert has agreed to cooperate with the department’s ongoing investigation, the department said. The plea agreement must still be approved by a federal judge.
“The Antitrust Division has uncovered conspiracies involving more than 50 automotive parts,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Brent Snyder of the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division. “Automobile manufacturers, and the American consumers who buy their cars, are entitled to prices set by competition, not secret cartels.”
Reuters and Automotive News staff contributed to this report.
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