After conducting dawn raids in the wire harnesses sector in February 2010, the European Commission has now opened a formal investigation. The decision, on 9 August 2012, permits the EC to assume authority from national competition authorities, but does not place a deadline for the completion of inquiries.
Surprise inspections have also been carried out in other areas of the car parts sector over the past 18 months, in respect of companies producing occupant safety systems, bearings and thermal systems. To date, the EC has imposed €400M in 2012.
As we have previously posted, the US investigation into possible cartels in the car parts sector has already seen substantial fines imposed on participants. This includes the second highest fine ever achieved by the Department of Justice – US$470M against Yazaki Corporation earlier this year. Yazaki executives also agreed to serve sentences of up to two years – the longest term imposed on a foreign national voluntarily submitting to US jurisdiction. Fines in relation to wire harnesses have also been imposed on a number of companies.