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Japanese auto company to pay $7.2 million criminal fine

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Staff Writer |
Usui Kokusai
Auto industry   Antitrust conspiracy involving steel tubes

Usui Kokusai Sangyo Kaisha, an automotive parts manufacturer based in Shimizu, Japan, has agreed to plead guilty and pay a $7.2 million criminal fine.

The company will pay for its role in a criminal conspiracy involving automotive steel tubes sold to automobile manufacturers in the United States and elsewhere, the Department of Justice announced.

According to a one-count felony charge filed today in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio, Usui participated in a conspiracy to fix prices, allocate customers and rig bids for automotive steel tubes sold to automobile manufacturers in the United States and elsewhere.

Maruyasu Industries Co. Ltd., Maruyasu’s wholly-owned U.S. subsidiary, Curtis-Maruyasu America Inc. (CMA), and sales executives, Tadao Hirade, Kazunori Kobayashi, Satoru Murai and Yoshihiro Shigematsu, were previously indicted on June 15, for their alleged participation in the conspiracy.

In addition to Usui’s agreement to pay a $7.2 million criminal fine, the manufacturer has agreed to cooperate with the department’s ongoing investigation. The plea agreement is subject to court approval.

Automotive steel tubes are used in fuel distribution, braking and other automotive systems and are sometimes divided into two categories – chassis tubes and engine parts.

Chassis tubes, such as brake and fuel tubes, tend to be located in the body of a vehicle while engine parts, such as fuel injection rails, oil level tubes and oil strainer tubes, are associated with the function of a vehicle’s engine.

According to the charges, Usui and its co-conspirators participated in meetings, conversations and communications in which they agreed to customer allocations as well as bids, prices and price adjustments to be submitted to customers in the United States and elsewhere.

Usui and its co-conspirators employed measures to conceal their conduct, including meeting surreptitiously and adopting means and methods of communication designed to avoid detection.

Usui’s involvement in the conspiracy lasted from at least as early as December 2003 until at least as late as July 9, 2011.


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