WASHINGTON (AFP) - German auto parts firm Robert Bosch admitted to fixing prices and rigging bids for parts sold in the United States and was fined US$57.8 million (S$79.3 million), the US Justice Department announced Tuesday.
Bosch pleaded guilty to one felony count of bid rigging and price fixing of spark plugs, starter motors and oxygen sensors it sold to DaimlerChrysler, Ford, General Motors and Andreas Stihl between 2000 and at least July 2011.
In addition, Bosch is charged with participating in a conspiracy to fix the prices of starter motors sold to Volkswagen between 2009 and at least June 2010, the department said.
It did not identify the other companies and people involved in the conspiracy, but said Bosch was participating in the ongoing investigation.
The Bosch guilty plea and fine come as apart of a sweeping, years-long US investigation into the auto parts industry that has seen 34 companies and 29 executives, mostly Japanese, plead guilty or agree to plead guilty to charges of rigging the market.
Bosch is the third European company to be charged in the years-long probe.
So far the US has collected US$2.5 billion in criminal fines, and many of the executives have been jailed.
"The participants in this conspiracy were not located in just one country or region of the world," said deputy assistant attorney general Brent Snyder of the Justice Department's Antitrust Division.
"Collusion related to automotive parts was global in nature as are our efforts to hold responsible companies and individuals accountable for the resulting harm to US consumers and businesses," he said in the statement.