Three current and former Bridgestone Corp (ADR) (OTCMKTS:BRDCY) (TYO:5108) officials have been indicted by the U.S. Department of Justice in a price-fixing conspiracy allegedly stretching back to 2001.

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The antitrust division of the DoJ filed the indictment in Toledo yesterday after a federal grand jury voted to indict Bridgestone execs Yoshiyuki Tanaka, Yasuo Ryuto and Isao Yoshida. Each man faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $1 million fine that could potentially be doubled.

Ongoing auto parts price-fixing investigation

These charges are just the latest salvo in an ongoing, multi-year investigation into a global conspiracy involving price fixing and bid rigging in the auto parts industry. So far 26 companies have pleaded guilty or agreed to plead guilty to conspiracy, and as a group paid fines of more than $2.29 billion. The charges against Tanaka, Ryuto and Yoshida bring the number of indicted executives from involved companies to 32.

The earlier plea agreement and the new indictments claim that Bridgestone Corp (ADR) (OTCMKTS:BRDCY) (TYO:5108) and the indicted execs were part of a global conspiracy to suppress  competition in the anti-vibration rubber parts industry by allocating sales, rigging bids and fixing prices for parts sold to car makers such as Toyota Motor Corp., Nissan Motor Corp., Suzuki Motor Corp. and Fuji Heavy Industries Ltd. (Subaru)

According to the legal filings, Tanaka, Ryuto, Yoshida and other co-conspirators held meetings and undertook secret communications to fix prices for anti-vibration parts for cars including several popular Toyota models such as Tacoma, Camry, Tundra, Sequoia, Corolla, Sienna, Venza and Highlander.

Bridgestone statement

In a statement, Bridgestone said it has been cooperating fully with the DOJ since it was informed of the investigation in May 2012. It said it is confident that Bridgestone’s involvement in the conspiracy ended in 2008, when the company instituted a global compliance initiative.

“In order to re-establish the trust of its customers and the many communities with which it does business, the Bridgestone Corp (ADR) (OTCMKTS:BRDCY) (TYO:5108) will redouble its efforts to ensure full compliance with all relevant laws and regulations,”