A two year investigation by the U.S. Justice Department, has found evidence that a small group of automotive harness suppliers were working together to control prices for wiring harnesses and other crucial components. It was found that as many as a dozen companies globally, had secret agreements to fix prices and controlled the allocation of parts to automakers. In addition to a $470 million fine, several company executives will be serving prison terms of up to two years. These penalties follow a separate $200 million fine imposed by the Justice Department on Furukawa Electric Co. in November.
Over 45 suits have been filed in federal court against the companies involved. American suppliers, as well as auto dealers and consumers who believe they have paid higher prices because of the price fixing, have begun taking legal action separate from the Justice Department probe. The ongoing investigation is the largest the Antitrust Division has ever pursued.