US to jail Japanese auto execs over price-fixing

WASHINGTON (AFP) - Two former top executives of Japanese auto parts supplier Diamond Electric will be imprisoned for more than a year in the United States for price fixing, the Justice Department said Friday.

Shigehiko Ikenaga and Tatsuo Ikenaga, respectively the former president and vice president of the Osaka-based company, agreed to plead guilty to participating in a "global conspiracy" to fix prices of ignition coils installed in cars for the US market, the department said.

The conspiracy, spanning at least from 2003 to 2010, saw various manufacturers rigging bids and fixing prices for ignition cols sold to Ford, Toyota, and Subaru.

Felony charges were filed in the US District Court in Detroit against the two on Friday as part of the plea agreement.

Shigehiko Ikenaga will serve 16 months in prison while his brother Tatsuo will serve 13 months. Both agreed to pay criminal fines of $5,000 each.

The two executives are the sons of company founder Shigeji Ikenaga, who died in 2012.

Diamond Electric itself pleaded guilty to charges in the price-fixing probe last September, and was fined US$19 million (S$24.2 million).

The charges and sentences are part of a long-term, wide-ranging probe into price fixing by mainly Japanese auto parts makers that has led to charges against 24 companies and 28 individuals.