Panasonic and their subsidiary Sanyo have pleaded guilty to a price fixing scheme involving automotive parts and battery cells. They have agreed to pay $57.6 million (£37.7 million).
Battery supplier LG Chem have also pleaded guilty to battery cell price fixing and they have to pay $1,056 million according to the FBI.
Panasonic participated in a conspiracy to fix the prices of switches, steering angle sensors and automotive high intensity discharge ballasts, way back to 1998. Sanyo and LG Chem were also accused of fixing the prices of cylindrical lithium ion battery cells for notebook computer battery packs.
The report shows that LG Chem and Sanyo engaged in unlawful behaviour from April 2007 to September 2008. The FBI said “Cylindrical lithium ion battery cells are rechargeable batteries that are often incorporated in groups into more powerful battery packs commonly used to power electronic devices.”
Scott Hammond, Deputy Assistant Attorney General for the AntiTrust Division’s criminal enforcement program issued a statement which read “Pleading guilty and cooperating with the division’s ongoing investigations is a necessary step in changing a corporate culture that turned customers into price fixing victims.”
Joseph Campbell, FBI Criminal Investigative Division Deputy Assistant Director said “The FBI remains committed to protecting American consumers and businesses from corporate corruption. The conduct of Panasonic, Sanyo, and LG Chem resulted in inflated production costs for notebook computers and cars purchased by U.S. customers.”
Kitguru says: Always embarrassing for the companies when they get caught like this.