The US Department of Justice has fined Panasonic, its subsidiary Sanyo and LG Chem for price fixing automotive parts and laptop batteries.
Panasonic, its subsidiary Sanyo and LG Chem have agreed to plead guilty and pay criminal fines totalling over US$57 million for illegal price fixing, the US Department of Justice announced.
Panasonic, which has been involved in a conspiracy to fix the prices of automotive parts since at least 1998, has agreed to pay US$45.8 million for a three-count felony. These parts included wheel switches, turn switches, wiper switches, combination switches, door courtesy switches and steering angle columns sold to Toyota between 2003 and 2010; and automotive HID ballasts sold to Honda, Mazda and Nissan between 1998 and 2010.
In two separate one-count charges, Sanyo has agreed to pay US$10.731 million and LG Chem US$1.056 million for conspiring to fix the prices of cylindrical lithium-ion battery cells used in laptop battery packs sold worldwide.
An additional 11 companies and 15 executives have also agreed to plead guilty and pay a total of more than US$874 million in fines as part of the automotive parts investigation, with 15 individuals sentenced to serve jail time.
Sanyo and LG Chem are the first companies to be charged in an ongoing investigation into the cylindrical lithium-ion battery market conducted by the US Antitrust Division and the FBI.
"The FBI remains committed to protecting American consumers and businesses from corporate corruption. The conduct of Panasonic, Sanyo and LG Chem resulted in inflated production costs for notebook computers and cars purchased by US consumers," said Joseph S Campbell, FBI Criminal Investigative Division deputy assistant director. "These investigations illustrate our efforts to ensure market fairness for US businesses by bringing corporations to justice when their commercial activity violates antitrust laws."