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Panasonic, Whirlpool Subsidiary Plead Guilty to U.S. Price-Fixing

Justice Department hints more charges may be on the way.

Japanese electronics giant Panasonic and a subsidiary of Whirlpool have agreed to plead guilty to price fixing and pay a $141 million fine, the U.S. Department of Justice said on Thursday.

"Panasonic Corporation and a Whirlpool Corporation subsidiary, Embraco North America Inc., have agreed to plead guilty and to pay a total of $140.9 million in criminal fines for their role in an international conspiracy to fix the prices of refrigerant compressors," the department said.

The Justice department hinted that more charges may be on the way but did not name the firms still under investigation.

"These are the first charges as a result of the antitrust division's ongoing investigation into the worldwide refrigerant compressors market," said Christine Varney, an assistant attorney general.

"We are committed to investigating and bringing to justice those who engage in this kind of international price-fixing."

The Justice Department said the two firms had met to coordinate prices for household and light commercial compressors for around three years from October 2004.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2010

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