WASHINGTON -- The U.S. Justice Department hit tire and rubber parts giant Bridgestone (IW 1000/125) with a $425 million fine Thursday for conspiring to fix the prices of rubber parts used in U.S.-made automobiles.
The department said Bridgestone pleaded guilty to one felony charge in the federal district court in Toledo, Ohio, and agreed to the fine.
The company had joined others in seeking to rig bids for supply contracts and fix the prices for anti-vibration rubber parts it sold to Japanese auto manufacturers producing and selling cars in the United States between 2001 and 2008.
The manufacturers included Toyota, Nissan,Subaru, Suzuki and Isuzu.
It was Bridgestone's second U.S. price-fixing fine in three years. In 2011, the company was fined $28 million for joining a conspiracy to fix prices for marine hose.
The Justice Department said that the company's "failure to disclose" the price-fixing operation for automotive rubber parts was a factor in setting the size of Thursday's fine.
The department's Antitrust Division "will take a hard line when repeat offenders fail to disclose additional anticompetitive behavior," said Deputy Assistant Attorney General Brent Snyder.
Bridgestone is one of 26 companies, mostly Japanese, which have pleaded guilty in the Justice Department's broad, multi-year investigation into price fixing in the auto parts sector.
More than $2 billion in fines has been assessed, and 28 people have been charged.
Agence France-Presse, 2014