On October 10, 2013, Takata Corp. (Takata), a Japanese auto parts maker, agreed to pay a $71.3 million as part of a plea agreement for its role in an alleged conspiracy to fix prices on seat belts sold to car manufacturers. In addition, Takata agreed that the Chairman-CEO, Shigehisa Takada, will take a 30 percent cut in his compensation and the other directors will take a 15 percent cut.
According to the criminal charges filed in Detroit last week, Takata is accused of conspiring with other companies between January 2003 and February 2011 to suppress and eliminate competition in the automotive parts industry by agreeing to rig bids for, and to fix, stabilize and maintain the prices of certain seatbelts.
The alleged price-fixing affected products sold to multiple U.S. and international automobile manufacturers. Takata is also a supplier of automotive air bags, interior components and steering wheel systems, which have previously been a focus of investigation in the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) auto parts price-fixing investigations.
The DOJ’s ongoing auto parts investigation has yielded charges against companies who manufacture a wide number of automotive parts including seatbelts, airbags, steering wheels, antilock brake systems, instrument panel clusters and wire harnesses.
The DOJ has already brought criminal charges against 21 companies and 21 executives and has imposed nearly $1.7 billion in total fines as part of its automotive parts investigation.