South Africa’s Competition Commission has slapped Toyoda Gosei, a Japanese manufacturer and supplier of car safety system products, including airbags, with a R6.1 million penalty which results from a consent agreement.
Toyoda admitted to charges of price fixing, dividing markets and collusive tendering with its competitors in a case that also involves global players; Takata Corporation, Tokai Rika, TRW Automotive and Autoliv.
The settlement follows a Commission investigation into collusive conduct by manufacturers of global car safety system products who supply airbags, seatbelts and steering wheels to a number of companies including Volkswagen, BMW, Toyota, Honda, Peugeot and Daimler AG.
The Commission’s investigation revealed that Toyoda colluded with Takata and Autoliv in respect of two separate requests for quotes issued by Toyota for airbags for its Yaris and Auris models.
Autoliv admitted last year to fifteen instances in which it was involved in prohibited practices including price fixing, market division, collusive tendering and/or exchanging commercially sensitive information with its competitors, namely: TRW Automotive, Takata, Toyoda and Tokai Rika. The company agreed to pay an administrative penalty totalling R149.9 million.
TRW applied for leniency as allowed for by the regulations. Takata has been referred to the Tribunal for prosecution. The investigation against Tokai Rika is ongoing.
The Commission said the Corporate Leniency Policy is aimed at eradicating and preventing cartel activity as it harms the economy at large.
The Commission added that cartels are particularly a damaging form of anti-competitive agreement often resulting in price increases that are harmful to consumers of goods or services concerned. “Not only does such activity affect consumer welfare, but it also hinders development and innovation in the industries within which this activity occurs.”
Competition Commissioner, Tembinkosi Bonakele, said “The uncovering and prosecution of this international cartel confirms the Commission’s position as one of the elite global anti cartel enforcers. The cartel on car parts is one of the most extensive global cartel affecting most vehicle model and therefore a significant number of consumers globally, including SA. The affected vehicles are among the most popular in our market. Its effect would have been a price increase in the prices of affected motor vehicle.”
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