Plea deals reached in Japanese auto parts conspiracy

WASHINGTON (CNN) — Nine Japanese auto parts manufacturers and two executives have agreed to plead guilty and pay more than $740 million in criminal fines as part of an ongoing price fixing investigation, the Justice Department said on Thursday.

The companies in the latest case fixed prices in 30 different car parts sold to the big Detroit automakers and admitted fixing prices on products sold to U.S. subsidiaries of the major Japanese car companies.

The parts were installed on more than 25 million vehicles purchased in the United States, the Justice Department said.

“As a result of these conspiracies, Americans paid more for their cars,” Attorney General Eric Holder said.

Chrysler, Ford Motor and General Motors, as well as Honda, Mazda, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Subaru and Toyota — all of which do business in the United States — were victimized, the Justice Department said.

The overall probe, the largest criminal investigation by the Justice Department’s antitrust division, has so far resulted in more than $1.6 billion in fines and criminal convictions of 17 executives.

Affected parts have included seat belts, radiators, wipers, air conditioning systems, power window motors, and power steering parts, the Justice Department said.

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