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Antitrust Suit Against Spark Plug Cartel

DETROIT (CN) - Robert Bosch and two other companies fixed spark plug prices around the world, auto parts distributors claim in a federal antitrust class action.

Distributors from Rhode Island and Connecticut claim that Bosch, the world's largest auto parts supplier; NGK Spark Plug Co., the world's largest manufacturer of spark plus; and Denso Corp. ran a "spark plug cartel" that allocated supplied, rigged bids and fixed prices.

Victims included General Motors, Ford, and DaimlerChrysler, and led to a criminal probe from the Department of Justice, lead plaintiff WAL dba Tri-State Automotive Waterhouse says in the May 18 complaint.

It claims that the conspiracy began as early as 2000.

So far, 34 companies and 29 executives have pleaded guilty or agreed to plead guilty and agreed to pay a total of $2.5 billion in criminal fines, according to the complaint.

Citing a Department of Justice statement, the plaintiffs call it largest criminal investigation the Justice Department has ever pursued, "both in terms of scope and potential volume of commerce affected by the alleged illegal conduct."

Bosch is based in Germany, the other defendants in Japan.

Bosch agreed to pay $57.8 million in criminal fines on March 31.

NGK entered its plea in October last year.

Lead attorney David Fink, of Bloomfield, Mich., assisted by eight other law firms, seek class certification and treble damages for Sherman Act violations.


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