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WASHINGTON, D.C.: Showa Corp., an automotive parts manufacturer based in Saitama, Japan is the latest company to plead guilty to price fixing in an on-going investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice (DoJ).

Showa has agreed to pay a US$19.9 million criminal penalty and joins 26 other companies and 33 exDoj Sealecutives caught in a conspiracy to fix prices and rig bids that has so far accrued a total of US$2.3 billion in fines.

According to the DoJ, Showa conspired to suppress and eliminate competition in the automotive parts industry by agreeing to rig bids for, and to fix, stabilize and maintain the prices of, certain pinion-assist type electric powered steering assemblies sold to Honda Motor Co. Ltd. in the U.S. and elsewhere.

Last week a former Bridgestone Corp. executive was sentenced to 18 months in prison and ordered to pay US$20,000 for conspiring to fix prices and rig bids of automotive anti-vibration rubber parts sold in the United StatesShowa America.

Yusuke Shimasaki, a former executive vice president for Bridgestone based in Findlay, Ohio, was charged with conspiring to allocate sales, rig bids, and fix, raise and maintain the prices of parts sold to Toyota, Nissan and Subaru between January 2001 and December 2008.

Brent Snyder, deputy assistant attorney general for the DoJ's Antitrust Division commented: "The division's ongoing investigation has resulted in more than two dozen executives serving prison time for their participation in illegal conspiracies involving auto parts."

In February this year Bridgestone agreed to plead guilty and pay a US$425 million criminal fine for its role in the conspiracy. On April 15, two former Bridgestone executives Yasuo Ryuto and Isao Yoshida plus current employee Yoshiyuki Tanaka were indicted for their role in the conspiracy.

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