WASHINGTON (Legal Newsline) - An executive of Tokyo-based auto parts maker Yazaki Corp., has pleaded guilty for his role in a price-fixing conspiracy, the Department of Justice announced Thursday.

He is the 11th executive so charged in the government's ongoing price-fixing and bid-rigging investigation in the auto parts industry.

A one-count felony charge was filed in Detroit federal court for Toshio Sudo, a Japanese national. He was accused of engaging in a conspiracy to rig bids for, and to fix, stabilize and maintain the prices of instrument panel clusters sold to customers in the United States and elsewhere.

According to the charge, Sudo's involvement in the conspiracy lasted from at least as early as January 2003 until at least February 2009. The department said that Sudo and his co-conspirators arranged to allocate the supply of instrument panel clusters and sold the parts at noncompetitive prices to automakers in the United States and elsewhere.

According to the plea agreement, which is subject to court approval, Sudo has agreed to serve 14 months in a U.S .prison, pay a $20,000 criminal fine and cooperate with the department's investigation.

"From using code names with one another, to meeting in remote or private locations, the conspirators employed a variety of measures to keep their illegal conduct secret," said Scott D. Hammond, Deputy Assistant Attorney General of the Antitrust Division's criminal enforcement program.

Seven companies and 11 executives have been charged in the ongoing investigation. Furukawa Electric Co. Ltd, DENSO Corp., Yazaki Corp., G.S. Electech Inc., Fujikura Ltd. and Autoliv Inc. pleaded guilty and were sentenced to pay a total of more than $785 million in criminal fines.

TRW Deutschland Holding GmbH has agreed to plead guilty. Additionally, seven of the individuals have been sentenced to pay criminal fines and to serve jail sentences ranging from a year and a day to two years each. Two other individuals have pleaded guilty and await sentencing, while another is scheduled to plead guilty on Sept.26.

According to the announcement, Sudo was charged with price fixing in violation of the Sherman Act. He is liable for a maximum sentence for individuals of 10 years and a fine of $1 million.

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