Eagle Eyes, E-Lite plead guilty in auto lights price-fixing conspiracy

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Oct. 19, 2012—A Taiwan aftermarket auto lights manufacturer and its U.S. distributor recently pleaded guilty to indictment charges regarding participation in a seven-year international conspiracy to fix the prices of aftermarket auto lights, according to the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ).

According to a one-count indictment filed in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California in San Francisco last year, Eagle Eyes Traffic Industrial Co. based in Tainan County, Taiwan, and its U.S. subsidiary E-Lite Automotive Inc. based in Chino, Calif., conspired with others to suppress and eliminate competition by fixing the prices of aftermarket auto lights. The DOJ said Eagle Eyes participated in the conspiracy from July 2001 through September 2008, and E-Lite participated from March 2006 through September 2008.

U.S. District Judge Richard Seeborg sentenced the companies to pay a total of $5 million in criminal fines, according to the DOJ.

The DOJ said the two highest-ranking officers of Eagle Eyes, including chairman Yu-Chu Lin, and vice chairman Homy Hong-Ming Hsu carried out the price-fixing conspiracy. The executives met with other co-conspirators and agreed to charge prices of aftermarket auto lights according to predetermined formulas. The DOJ said the conspirators issued price announcements to customers in accordance with the determined price structure, and collected and exchanged information on prices to monitor and enforce adherence to the conspiracy.

“The conspirators engaged in an international price-fixing scheme that undermined competition in the aftermarket auto lights industry,” said Joseph Wayland, acting assistant attorney general in charge of the DOJ’s Antitrust Division.

Wayland said four corporations have now been charged with participation in the conspiracy. Sabry Lee Inc. pleaded guilty in October 2011, and was sentenced to pay a $200,000 criminal fine. Maxzone Vehicle Lighting Corp. pleaded guilty in November 2011, and sentenced to pay a $43 million criminal fine.

In addition, five company executives have been individually charged for their participation. The DOJ said four of them have pleaded guilty. Eagles Eyes’ vice chairman Hsu pleaded guilty in September and is scheduled to be sentenced Jan. 22. Shiu-Min Hsu, former chairman of Depo Auto Parts Industrial Co., pleaded guilty in March and is scheduled to be sentenced Jan. 8. Chien Chung Chen, former executive vice president of Sabry Lee Inc., pleaded guilty in June 2011 and is scheduled to be sentenced Jan. 15. Polo Shu-Sheng Hsu, the highest-ranking officer of Maxzone, pleaded guilty in March 2011. Shu-Sheng Hsu served a 180-day prison sentence and paid a $25,000 criminal fine.

The DOJ said Eagle Eyes’ chairman Yu-Chu Lin, who resides in Taiwan, remains a fugitive.

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