Car parts manufacturer Sanden Corp has agreed to plead guilty and to pay a $3.2 million criminal fine for its role in a conspiracy suppress and eliminate competition for the purchase of compressors used in air condition systems sold to Nissan.
The Department of Justice announced today that the compressors were used in vehicles manufactured and sold to customers in the U.S. and elsewhere, according to Justice.gov.
"Sanden has fully cooperated with the DOJ throughout its investigation," the company said in a company statement posted on its website on Tuesday. "The company decided to enter into the plea agreement upon consideration of the relevant facts and circumstances."
Sanden reportedly conspired to fix the prices of compressors sold in Nissan, according to a felony charge filed in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan in Detroit.
The Department of Justice confirmed the Sanden and its co-conspirator ran meetings and held conversations to discuss and agree upon the bids and price quotations sent to Nissan for the purchase of compressors used in air condition systems in vehicles.
"Today's charge is the latest in the Antitrust Division's ongoing investigation of automobile parts suppliers," said Brent Snyder, Deputy Assistant Attorney General for the Antitrust Division's criminal enforcement program, according to Justice.gov. "The division continues to vigorously prosecute companies and individuals that seek to maximize their profits through illegal, anticompetitive means."
Sanden's involvement lasted from August 2008 through at least April 2009.
The plea agreement is subject to court approval.
Sanden, 32 other companies and 50 individuals have been charged in the department's ongoing investigation into price fixing and bid rigging, which has led to $2.4 billion in criminal fines, according to Justice.gov.
Charges were brought by the Antitrust Division's New York Office and the FBI's New York Field Office, along with the assistance of the FBI headquarters' International Corruption Unit.