Attorney General Becerra Secures Over Half a Million Dollars in a Settlement Against an Auto Parts Manufacturer for Illegal Bid Rigging
SACRAMENTO – California Attorney General Xavier Becerra today announced the recovery of $583,333 in a settlement with auto parts manufacturer Corning Incorporated (“Corning”) and its subsidiary Corning International Kabushiki Kaisha (“CIKK”) for antitrust law violations arising from illegal bid rigging. This conduct, going back decades, involved conspiracies by Corning, CIKK, and other auto manufacturers to suppress and eliminate competition by agreeing to rig bids for and to fix, stabilize, and maintain prices of ceramic substrates sold to automobile manufacturers. Ceramic substrates are an uncoated ceramic monolith with a fine honeycomb structure that is incorporated into an automotive catalytic converter. This scheme artificially increased prices for California consumers and created a less competitive marketplace.
“Competitive marketplaces help consumers by protecting fair prices, especially for expensive purchases like cars,” said Attorney General Becerra. “The decision by auto parts manufacturers to manipulate the market through illegal bid-rigging comes with a price on the backs of consumers and states. At the California Department of Justice, we will do our part to stop illegal anticompetitive behavior.”
More than 22 million cars are registered in California. Competitive marketplaces, safeguarded by vigilant antitrust enforcement, help consumers by reducing artificially inflated pricing, especially for significant consumer purchases such as cars. Corning and CIKK affected millions of dollars of commerce by fixing, stabilizing, and maintaining prices of ceramic substrates that forced consumers to pay higher-than-competitive prices for the parts and the vehicles in which they were installed. As a result, Corning and CIKK deprived the State of California – including its businesses and consumers – of open and fair competition for vehicles containing ceramic substrates.
Following separate actions by the U.S. Department of Justice, some 46 companies pled guilty to price-fixing and bid-rigging in the auto parts industry and agreed to pay a total of nearly $3 billion in fines. These companies have also been sued by attorneys representing classes of indirect purchasers, including auto dealers and consumers, and direct purchaser plaintiffs. Consumers can find more information about these class action settlements at www.autopartsclass.com.