Car-Part Maker Faces $19M Price-Fixing Fine

     CINCINATTI (CN) - A company has agreed to pay a $19.9 million fine for conspiring to fix the prices of mechanisms installed in U.S. cars, the Justice Department said.
     The plea Wednesday from Saitama, Japan-based Showa Corp. settles a one-count felony filed the same day in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio.
     Prosecutors said Showa had been rigging bids for, and fixing the prices of, "certain pinion-assist type electric-powered steering assemblies sold to Honda Motor Co. Ltd. and certain of its subsidiaries in the United States and elsewhere."
     Showa faces the $19.9 million criminal fine and must cooperate with the ongoing investigation.
     The plea makes Showa the 27th company to admit guilt, or agree to plead guilty, in the ongoing investigation into price fixing and bid rigging in the auto parts industry. Fines to date total $2.3 billion. Twenty-four executives have also pleaded guilty or have agreed to do so.
     "Showa and its co-conspirators monitored adherence to the agreed-upon bid-rigging and price-fixing scheme," the Justice Department said in a statement. "The conspirators kept their conduct secret by using code names and meeting at remote locations, among other things. Showa's involvement in the conspiracy lasted from at least as early as 2007 until as late as September 2012."
     Sherman Act violations of this nature carry maximum penalties of a $100 million criminal fine for corporations.