DETROIT, Michigan — A US auto parts supplier has become the latest company to plead guilty to fixing prices of parts sold to German automakers following an international probe, US prosecutors said Monday.
The German subsidiary of TRW Automotive Holdings Corp agreed to pay a $5.1 million fine for its involvement in a conspiracy to fix the prices of parts sold to two German manufacturers.
The US Department of Justice became involved because some of those vehicles were exported to the United States.
"By agreeing to fix the prices of seatbelts, airbags and steering wheels, the conspirators eliminated competition for occupant safety parts in cars sold to US consumers," Scott Hammond, deputy assistant attorney general for antitrust criminal enforcement, said in a statement.
A total of seven companies and 10 individuals have been charged in the ongoing investigation which has already netted $785 million in criminal fines.
With 2011 sales of $16.2 billion, TRW Automotive ranks among the world's leading automotive suppliers.
TRW officials said a related European Commission investigation is ongoing and it is "premature to speculate on the outcome."
"The actions connected with the DOJ settlement announced today conflict with what TRW stands for and are not consistent with our policies," TRW chairman and chief executive officer John Plant said in a statement.
"Once we learned of the investigation, we moved very quickly to cooperate with the DOJ and bring this matter to a resolution," he added.
"In addition, we have put in place enhanced training and communications to ensure that everyone in the organization is clear that we do not tolerate such conduct."
The supplier admitted to conspiring to fix prices from January 2008 until at least June 2011 during meetings with competitors.
Furukawa Electric Co. Ltd, DENSO Corp., Yazaki Corp., G.S. Electech Inc., Fujikura Ltd. and Autoliv Inc. previously pleaded guilty and were sentenced to pay more than $785 million in criminal fines.