JFTC puts the brakes on car parts cartelists
The 22nd of November 2012 was a rather unpleasant day for four Japanese car parts companies, Mitsubishi Electric Corp., Mitsuba Corp., T.Rad Co. and Calsonic Kansei Corp., who were found guilty by the Japan Fair Trade Commission (JFTC) of price fixing practices and ordered to pay a total of 3.4 billion yen (approx. A$39.5 million) for violations of Japan’s anti-monopoly laws.
The investigations into the alleged price fixing conduct were initiated by the JFTC in 2011 in relation to conduct that had occurred between June 2000 and March 2003. The JFTC’s investigations commenced at the same time as other competition regulators, including the US Department of Justice, commenced parallel investigations. The conduct involved the companies conspiring to fix the prices of several car parts, including generators, starters, windscreen wipes and radiators. The JFTC ultimately concluded that the four companies had contravened article 3 of Japan’s Antimonopoly Act which prohibits unreasonable restraint of trade.
As a result of the anti-competitive conduct, the companies charged inflated prices to several sizable car companies including Honda, Suzuki and Nissan. As well as being ordered to adopt a resolution that they have terminated the offending conduct, and will not engage in similar conduct in the future, the companies must take measures to issue compliance guidelines and implement regular staff training on compliance with Japan’s Antimonopoly Act.
In a press release, Mitsubishi Electric (who was issued with the largest fine of 1.4 billion yen (approx. A$16.5 million)) stated that it is taking the matter very seriously and will try to recover public trust. Similarly, Calsonic Kansei said it will take this matter with gravity and “deeply regrets that it caused inconvenience to its customers, shareholders and other relevant persons”.