Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Auto-parts subsidiary fined $1.5M for price-fixing

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OTTAWA -- The Competition Bureau has fined the Canadian subsidiary of Maxzone Auto Parts Corp. $1.5 million for its role in an international price-fixing scheme.

The federal watchdog said Friday the auto-parts company pleaded guilty Thursday to its role in a conspiracy to fix prices for aftermarket replacement automotive lights.

"Today's guilty plea sends a clear message that price-fixing activities will not be tolerated in Canada," said Melanie Aitken, commissioner of competition.

"Price-fixing is a serious crime that deprives consumers of the benefits of competition, such as lower prices and product choice."

The bureau said following its investigation, Maxzone Canada admitted to reaching an agreement with competitors to set the price of replacement lights in Canada from January 2004 to September 2008.

The lights, mostly headlights and tail lights, were primarily purchased by auto-parts supply companies in Canada for use as replacement parts, it added.

The charges announced Friday are the first to arise from the bureau's investigation, it said, adding anyone with information is encouraged to contact the bureau.

California-based Maxzone Auto Part Corp. did not immediately provide a comment.

The U.S. Department of Justice has been heavily invested in probes into collusion and price-fixing in the auto sector.

Last month, it charged a fifth Japanese company as part of its investigation into a conspiracy to rig bids and fix prices for auto parts from January 2006 to at least February 2010.

-- The Canadian Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition May 5, 2012 B7

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