Autoliv, the Swedish auto parts manufacturer with five plants in northern Utah, has agreed to plead guilty to two antitrust charges and pay a $14.5 million fine in a price-fixing probe, the company and the U.S. Department of Justice said Wednesday.
A local spokesperson for Autoliv did not immediately return a call seeking comment.
The Stockholm company will plead guilty to a charge of conspiracy to fix prices for seatbelts, airbags and steering wheels sold to one manufacturer and to a separate conspiracy charge for fixing prices of seatbelts sold to another, the Justice Department said in a news release.
Autoliv said the case involves a Japanese subsidiary.
The company is one of the largest employers in the state, with two plants in Ogden, and one each in Brigham City, Tremonton and Promontory.
An executive of Japan-based Yazaki Corporation also agreed to plead guilty for his role in a separate conspiracy to fix prices, the DOJ said.
"By meeting in secret and agreeing to allocate the supply of various automotive parts, the conspirators colluded to rip off automotive manufacturers in the United States and abroad," said Scott D. Hammond, deputy assistant attorney general, in a news release. "These conspiracies eliminated competition and resulted in inflated prices to automotive manufacturers for parts in cars sold to U.S. consumers."
As part of the plea agreement, the government will not further prosecute Autoliv, its subsidiaries or officers, though three sales employees could still face prosecution, the company said.
"It is simply unacceptable that we have ended up in this situation in the first place,'' said Jan Carlson, Autoliv president and CEO, in a news release. ``It goes against everything we stand for."
He said the company has cooperated "extensively" with the investigation.