16TH EXECUTIVE CHARGED IN US INVESTIGATION INTO AUTOMOTIVE INDUSTRY

DOJThe US Justice Department announced on 12 September 2013 that a federal grand jury has returned an indictment against Shingo Okuda, an executive at G.S Electech Inc., for his role in a conspiracy to fix prices in the car manufacturing sector.

Okuda, a Japanese citizen, is accused of agreeing during meetings and discussions to fix prices and rig bids for speed sensor wire assemblies sold to Toyota between 2003 and 2010, in violation of the Sherman Act. The charges against Okuda are the latest in the Department of Justice’s ongoing investigation into the automotive sector and follow Panasonic’s guilty plea in July 2013. Okuda is the first to be charged in Kentucky, where Toyota has a large assembly plant.

G.S Electech, which manufactures, assembles and sells a variety of automotive electrical parts, was the first of 12 companies to plead guilty to charges in the investigation and was fined USD2.75 million for its part in the cartel in April 2012. The investigation has so far seen 12 companies and 15 executives plead guilty and has cost the auto industry more than USD874 million in fines and resulted in prison sentences of between a year and a day and two years. Substantial fines have also been imposed in parallel investigations in Europe, Australia, Korea, Japan and Canada. An investigation in China is expected to be opened in the coming months.

There is no sign that the probe is set to slow down, with Scott Hammond, the departing deputy assistant attorney general of the antitrust division’s criminal enforcement programme, saying that “holding individuals accountable for their actions is the surest way to deter executives from choosing to collude rather than compete for business.”

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About Michael O'Kane

Michael O’Kane is a partner and Head of the Business Crime team at leading UK firm Peters & Peters. Described as ‘first-rate’ (Legal 500 2012), he “draws glowing praise from commentators” (Chambers 2013) for handling the international aspects of business crime, including sanctions, extradition and mutual legal assistance. Called to the Bar in 1992 and prior to joining Peters & Peters he was a senior specialist prosecutor at the Crown Prosecution Service Headquarters(CPS). At CPS HQ he was a key member of a small specialist unit responsible for the prosecution of serious and high profile fraud, terrorist and special interest criminal matters including the Stansted Airport Afghan hijacking and the prosecution of Paul Burrell (Princess Diana’s butler). Michael joined Peters & Peters in 2002. He became a partner in May 2004, and Head of the Business Crime team in May 2009. Since joining Peters & Peters, Michael has dealt with a wide range of business crime matters. He has particular expertise in international sanctions, criminal cartels, extradition, corruption, mutual legal assistance, and FSA investigations. Described as“ an influential practitioner in fraud and regulatory work, so much so that he is top of the referral lists of many City firms for independent advice for directors” (The Lawyer’s Hot 100 2009), he was recognised as one of the UK’s most innovative lawyers in the 2011 FT Innovative Lawyer Awards and included in the list of the UK's leading lawyers in 'The International Who's Who of Asset Recovery 2012. In 2012 he was the winner of the Global Competition Review Article of the Year. Michael regularly appears on television and radio to discuss his specialist areas and he is the author of the leading textbook on the UK Criminal Cartel Offence “The Law of Criminal Cartels-Practice and Procedure” (Oxford University Press 2009). Recent/Current Sanctions Work • Representing 109 individuals and 12 companies subject to designation by the European Council under targeted measures imposed against Zimbabwe. This is the largest and most complex collective challenge to a sanctions listing ever brought before the European Court. • Acting for a former Egyptian Minister and his UK resident wife, challenging their designation by the European Council of Ministers under targeted measures brought against former members of the Egyptian Government. • Advising a company accused in a UN investigation report to have breached UN sanctions imposed in relation to Somalia. • Advising a UK company in relation to ongoing commercial relationships with an Iranian company listed under both EU and UN sanctions. • Advising an individual in relation to a UK investigation for alleging breaching nuclear export controls.

One thought on “16TH EXECUTIVE CHARGED IN US INVESTIGATION INTO AUTOMOTIVE INDUSTRY

  1. Pingback: TWO MORE JAPANESE EXECUTIVES CHARGED IN US INVESTIGATION INTO AUTOMOTIVE INDUSTRY | Criminal Cartels Blog

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