Canada competition watchdog fines Japan's Toyo Tire

Wed Dec 9, 2015 7:00pm EST
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TORONTO Dec 9 (Reuters) - Canada's Competition watchdog said on Wednesday it has fined Japanese car and truck tire maker Toyo Tire & Rubber Co C$1.7 million for its alleged participation in an international bid-rigging conspiracy.

The Competition Bureau said the bid-rigging conspiracy is tied to the supply of anti-vibration components to Toyota Motor Corp.

The independent Canadian law enforcement agency that ensures businesses operate competitively said its investigation found that between June 2004 and August 2006, Toyo engaged in secret pacts with other suppliers of anti-vibration parts in response to requests for quotes issued by Toyota for certain Corolla, RAV 4 and Lexus models.

Toyo Tire was not immediately reachable for comment.

To date, the Bureau's investigation involving motor vehicle components has resulted in some eight guilty pleas and over C$58 million in fines imposed by the courts since April 2013.

The fine comes just a day after John Pecman, the head of the agency vowed that the Bureau would not go soft on cartel and bid-rigging cases, despite a couple of setbacks in some recent cases.

Last month, Canadian prosecutors dropped proceedings against the local arm of Nestle in a multi-year investigation into alleged price-fixing of chocolate products.

Canada had charged Nestle and others in 2013 with colluding to fix the price of chocolate. At the time, the Bureau recommended lenient treatment for the Canadian arm of Hershey Co, which cooperated with the investigation and reached a deal to plead guilty to a single count of price fixing.

"Cracking down on cartels has been, and continues to be, a top priority for the Bureau," said Pecman in a speech at law firm Goodmans in Toronto on Tuesday.

"We have had some setbacks. I won't pretend otherwise. But a Chicken Little reaction that 'the sky is falling' is a wholly inappropriate response," he said. (Reporting by Euan Rocha; Editing by David Gregorio)