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Auto parts makers plead guilty in U.S. price fixing probe: DOJ

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Nine companies based in Japan and two executives have agreed to plead guilty and to pay a total of more than $740 million in fines for their roles in conspiracies to fix the prices of auto parts sold to U.S. car manufacturers, the Department of Justice said on Thursday.

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The department said that price-fixed automobile parts were sold to Fiat affiliate Chrysler Group, Ford Motor, and General Motors, as well as to the U.S. subsidiaries of Honda Motor, Mazda Motor, Mitsubishi Motors, Nissan Motor, Toyota Motor, and Fuji Heavy Industries's Subaru.

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In some cases the activity, which involved separate conspiracies to fix prices of more than 30 different products, lasted for a decade or longer, said Scott Hammond of the department's antitrust division's criminal enforcement program.

The conspiracies affected more than $5 billion in parts sold to U.S. manufacturers, "More than 25 million cars purchased by American consumers were affected by the illegal conduct," said Attorney General Eric Holder.

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Thursday's actions brought to 20 companies and 21 executives that have been charged in the antitrust division's investigation into price fixing and bid rigging in the auto parts industry.

Each of the companies and executives in the plea deal announced on Thursday has agreed to cooperate with the department's ongoing antitrust investigation, the Justice Department said.

By Reuters