Swedish supplier Autoliv has pleaded guilty for its role in a price fixing conspiracy and will pay a 14.5 million fine, the US Department of Justice (DOJ) said in a press release.

Autoliv has admitted its role in a conspiracy to fix prices of seatbelts, airbags and steering wheels delivered to a carmaker in the US. It also pleaded guilty to a separate conspiracy charge involving seatbelts for another auto company, the DOJ said.

Also, the department said an executive of Japan-based Yazaki pleaded guilty for his role in a conspiracy to fix prices of automotive wire harnesses and related products installed in US cars.

While Autoliv has agreed to the fine and will cooperate with the DOJ's continuing investigation, a Yazaki executive, Kazuhiko Kashimoto, has agreed to serve a 14 month prison sentence, pay a 20,000 dlr criminal file and also cooperate with the investigation.

"By meeting in secret and agreeing to allocate the supply of various automotive parts, the conspirators colluded to rip off automotive manufacturers in the United States and abroad,” said Scott D. Hammond, deputy assistant attorney general of the Antitrust Division’s criminal enforcement program. "These conspiracies eliminated competition and resulted in inflated prices to automotive manufacturers for parts in cars sold to U.S. consumers.”

Citing court documents, the DOJ said Autoliv’s involvement in the first conspiracy lasted from at least as early as March 2006 until at least February 2011, and its involvement in the second conspiracy to fix prices of seatbelts lasted from at least as early as May 2008 to at least February 2011.

Autoliv and its co-conspirators agreed to allocate the supply of seatbelts, airbags and steering wheels on a model-by-model basis, the DOJ said. The department added that Autoliv and the co-conspirators sold the occupant safety parts at noncompetitive prices to automakers in the United States and elsewhere.

According to a one-count felony charge also filed in the U.S. District Court in Detroit, Kashimoto, along with co-conspirators, engaged in a conspiracy to rig bids for, and to fix, stabilize and maintain the prices of automotive wire harnesses and related products sold to a customer in the US and elsewhere, the DIJ said.

Six companies and 10 individuals in total have been charged in the DOJ's investigation into price fixing and bid rigging in the auto parts industry.

Furukawa Electric Co. Ltd, DENSO Corporation, Yazaki Corporation and G.S. Electech Inc. pleaded guilty and were sentenced to pay a total of more than $750 million in criminal fines. Fujikura Ltd has agreed to plead guilty. Additionally, seven of the individuals”“Junichi Funo, Hirotsugu Nagata, Tetsuya Ukai, Tsuneaki Hanamura, Ryoji Kawai, Shigeru Ogawa and Hisamitsu Takada”“have been sentenced to pay criminal fines and to serve jail sentences ranging from a year and a day to two years each. Makoto Hattori has agreed to plead guilty and Norihiro Imai has pleaded guilty and awaits sentencing.