WASHINGTON (Legal Newsline) — The U.S. Department of Justice announced March 7 that Kiekert AG, an automotive parts manufacturer with headquarters in Heiligenhaus, Germany, will pay $6.1 million for allegedly conspiring to rig bids of side-door latches and latch mini-modules installed in cars sold in the United States.
“The Antitrust Division has uncovered conspiracies involving more than 50 automotive parts,” said acting assistant attorney feneral Brent Snyder of the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division. “Automobile manufacturers, and the American consumers who buy their cars, are entitled to prices set by competition, not secret cartels.”
Side-door latches secure car doors to the body, while latch mini-modules include the side-door latch and related parts. According to allegations, Kiekert officials met with another producer of the products and agreed to a variety of illegal activities. The two producers allegedly agreed to allocate sales, rig bids and fix prices that both would submit to Ford Motor Company and its subsidiaries in the U.S. The conduct purportedly occurred between September 2008 and May 2013.
“Americans expect corporations in the United States and overseas to conduct their business honestly. To do anything less, compromises consumer trust,” said special agent in charge David P. Gelios of the FBI’s Detroit Division. “Today’s plea agreement of Kiekert AG, demonstrates the resolve of the FBI and the Department of Justice to protect American consumers from price fixing and bid rigging schemes that ultimately harm the U.S. economy.”