It's being touted as the largest criminal investigation the Antitrust Division of the U.S. Justice Department has ever conducted.
And that doesn't include similar investigations being conducted in Europe and Japan. Moreover, it isn't over.
The Detroit News reports that Joaquin Almunia, v-p of the European Commission oversight unit for competition policy told an audience at Georgetown University that to date more than 100 products and over 70 companies are involved in its current investigation and he noted that there was more to come in the EU's investigation.
Said Almunia, “Our long-standing cooperation with the (Justice Department) has led us to coordinate inspections in many international cartel cases, notably in car parts investigation.
As to the commission, last July we imposed the fines against five producers of wire harnesses — the devices that conduct electricity in cars — and more decisions in this sector will follow.
The fines totaled $182 million for price-fixing that affected Toyota, Nissan Motor Co, Honda Motor Co. and Renault.
Indeed, the U.S. Justice Department last month imposed fines on nine other auto industry suppliers and two executives amounting to some $740 million in conspiracies that involved more than 30 products sold to OEMs.
In total, the Justice Department has charged 21 companies and executives in its auto industry price fixing investigation and collectively they have agreed to pay $1.6 billion in fines.
Several executives have received significant prison terms for their involvement.
What's amazing is how long some of the cartels have existed without being discovered with investigations going back to the 1990s.
The Justice Department has credited the Japanese Fair Trade Commission for being the first to detect the illegal price fixing activity.
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