Auto supplier to plead guilty to price fixing

DETROIT — Auto supplier Robert Bosch has agreed to plead guilty to price fixing and bid rigging in Detroit federal court today.

The German company, which has a large Michigan presence, has agreed to pay a $57.8 million fine as a result of its Sherman Act violations.

The scheme involved the cost of spark plugs and oxygen sensors sold to car and internal combustion engine manufacturers, like DaimlerChrysler, the Ford Motor Co., General Motors and Andreas Stihl AG & Co., both in the United States and abroad at least between January 2000 and July 2011, the U.S Department of Justice said.

“The combination and conspiracy engaged in by Defendant and its co-conspirators was in unreasonable restraint of interstate and foreign trade and commerce,” according to court documents.

Deputy Assistant Attorney General Brent Snyder of the DOJ’s Antitrust Division’s Criminal Enforcement Program said in a statement. “Collusion related to automotive parts was global in nature as are our efforts to hold responsible companies and individuals accountable for the resulting harm to U.S. consumers and businesses.”

Bosch is also charged with participating in a conspiracy to do the same things with starter motors sold to Volkswagen and some of its American subsidiaries from at least January 2009 until June 2010, according to the felony charge filed in federal court in Detroit today. The supplier has agreed to cooperate in DOJ’s ongoing investigation.

The court must approve today’s plea agreement.

“Right from the start of the process, Bosch cooperated fully with the U.S. authorities and we’re committed to complying with the legislation as well with the rules of good business conduct,” Bosch spokeswoman Linda Beckmeyer told the Free Press. “The fact that such misconduct could happen has prompted Bosch to further improve its existing processes to ensure compliance.”

To date, DOJ’s investigation into auto parts price fixing and bid rigging has yielded 63 guilty pleas by companies and executives, including Bosch, and close to $2.5 billion in fines, the department said.

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Posted by Tribune News Services

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