Taiwan auto lights executive pleads guilty to price-fixing

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Sept. 26, 2012—The vice chairman and second-highest ranking officer of a Taiwan-based aftermarket auto lights manufacturer pleaded guilty Tuesday for his participation in an international conspiracy to fix the prices of aftermarket auto lights, according to the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ).

Hsu is charged with violating the Sherman Act, which carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $1 million criminal fine for individuals. 

The DOJ said Homy Hong-Ming Hsu, vice chairman of Eagle Eyes Traffic Industrial Co., was arrested in July 2011 and indicted for his participation in the conspiracy. According to a felony indictment filed the in U.S. District Court in San Francisco in November 2011, Hsu conspired with others to suppress and eliminate competition by fixing the prices of aftermarket auto lights.

According to the indictment, Hsu and co-conspirators held meetings in the U.S. and Taiwan, and agreed to charge prices of aftermarket auto lights based on jointly determined formulas. The participants in the conspiracy issued price announcements to customers in accordance with the determined price structure, and collected and exchanged information on prices to monitor and enforce adherence, the DOJ said.

The DOJ said Hsu participated in the conspiracy from November 2001 through September 2008. Eagle Eyes, its U.S. subsidiary E-Lite Automotive Inc., and Eagle Eyes’ highest-ranking officer Chairman Yu-Chu Lin were also indicted for their participation in the conspiracy.

Trial for Eagle Eyes and E-Lite is scheduled to begin Oct. 29, according to the DOJ.

“The Antitrust Division will continue to crack international price fixing cartels that harm American businesses and consumers,” said Joseph Wayland, acting assistant attorney general in charge of the DOJ’s Antitrust Division. “Four corporations and five executives have been charged as a result of the Antitrust Division’s investigation into price fixing in the aftermarket auto lights industry.”

Of those five individuals, the DOJ said three of them have already pleaded guilty to their involvement. Shiu-Min Hsu, former chairman of Depo Auto Parts Industrial Co. in Taiwan, pleaded guilty March 20 and is scheduled to be sentenced on Jan. 8. Polo Shu-Sheng Hsu, the highest-ranking officer of Maxzone Vehicle Lighting Corp., a U.S. distributor of aftermarket auto lights, pleaded guilty in March 2011. He served a 180-day prison sentence and paid a $25,000 criminal fine. Chien Chung Chen, former executive vice president of Sabry Lee Inc., a U.S. distributor of aftermarket auto lights, pleaded guilty in June 2011. He is scheduled to be sentenced on Jan. 15.

In addition, the DOJ said two of the four corporations involved in the conspiracy have also pleaded guilty. Sabry Lee pleaded guilty in October 2011 and was sentenced to pay a $200,000 criminal fine. Maxzone pleaded guilty in November 2011 and was sentenced to pay a $43 million criminal fine.

The DOJ said the case is part of an ongoing joint investigation conducted by the its Antitrust Division’s San Francisco Office and the FBI in San Francisco.

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