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Department of Justice fines Bridgestone

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Bridgestone Corp. announced that it has entered into a plea agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ). The company will pay a $28 million criminal fine for its involvement in a bid rigging conspiracy and improper payments to Latin American officials.

The DOJ has agreed that Bridgestone’s cooperation in the case has been “extraordinary.” The DOJ says the activities affected prices for millions of dollars’ worth of marine hose and related products. Bridgestone has agreed to plead guilty to antitrust conspiracy charges and a violation of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.

The DOJ says the $28 million fine was “a significant reduction from the applicable sentencing guidelines due to Bridgestone’s cooperation and remediation efforts.” The plea deal is subject to approval by the U.S. District Court in Houston.

Since May 2007, the DOJ has been investigating Bridgestone’s involvement in international cartel activities relating to the sale of marine hose. The DOJ has also investigated improper payments to government officials through local sales agents, focusing primarily on Latin America, in connection with certain industrial products.

The DOJ says Bridgestone has engaged in extensive remediation including: dismantling the International Engineered Products Department; closing its Houston office of Bridgestone Industrial Products of America Inc.; terminating many of its third-party agents; and, taking remedial actions with respect to its employees.

Bridgestone has stated that it will withdraw from the marine hose business.

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