Japanese auto wiring supplier Furukawa Electric Co. will pay $42.5 million to settle claims that it secretly agreed with other companies to rig the price of in-car electronic systems beginning in the late 1990s. In the event the settlement is approved by the court only three manufacturers of so-called automotive wire harness systems out of the 12 originally sued will remain in the case. The other Defendants have settled: Mitsubishi paid $64 million to resolve price-rigging claims for wiring and other auto parts; and a group of other parts manufacturers agreeing to pay $225 million. Furukawa has agreed “to provide substantial discovery cooperation” as the case moves forward in the form of interviews, documents and sales data.
The litigation arises from a massive investigation by U.S., Japanese and European authorities in and around 2011 that yielded approximately $2.4 billion in criminal fines paid to the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), including $200 million paid by Furukawa over its admitted role in price-fixing and bid-rigging between 2000 and 2010. Several of the company’s executives went to jail for their role in the scheme.
While it’s not clear as to the size of the Furukawa class of so-called end payors, the claims extend from 1998 to 2016. The Plaintiffs said in their complaint that the company controls about 4 percent of the global market for wire harness systems. The parties that haven’t yet settled are Chiyoda Manufacturing Corp., G.S. Electech Inc. and Asti Corp. and their affiliates.
The proposed class of end-payor Plaintiffs is represented by Steven N. Williams, Elizabeth Tran and Demetrius X. Lambrinos of Cotchett Pitre & McCarthy LLP; Hollis Salzman, Bernard Persky and William V. Reiss of Robins Kaplan LLP; and Marc M. Seltzer and Steven G. Sklaver of Susman Godfrey LLP. The case is Wire Harness – End Payor Actions in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan.
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