Automotive suppliers face cartel probe by OFT

2 June 2010

2 June 2010 | Nick Martindale

The Office of Fair Trading (OFT) is investigating allegations of price-fixing among suppliers in the automotive sector.

An OFT spokesperson told SM: “The OFT confirms it has executed a search warrant at a business address in the Midlands in connection with a criminal investigation into suspected cartel activity in the automotive sector.

“The investigation is being carried out under the Enterprise Act 2002, which makes it a criminal offence for individuals dishonestly to engage in certain cartel conduct. The investigation is at a very early stage and no assumption should be made at this stage that an offence has been committed.”

The OFT is believed to have taken in an employee of vehicle equipment manufacturer Yazaki for questioning and raided the company’s offices in Coventry following a tip-off from a competitor, reported the Financial Times. Yazaki refused to comment on the investigation.

Sumitomo Electric Wiring Systems is said to have reported suspicious activity to the authorities several months ago, triggering an international investigation into an alleged cartel among suppliers of electrical wiring to car manufacturers such as the Japanese giant Honda.

The raid of Yazaki’s premises and the arrest of an employee are thought to have taken place in February. The employee has been held on police bail until this month.

The OFT is also believed to be investigating a similar claim involving a large manufacturer of plastic packaging.

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