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Aftermarket auto lights manufacturer pleads guilty in price-fixing conspiracy

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Feb. 29, 2012—Shiu-Min Hsu, former chairman of Taiwan-based Depo Auto Parts Industrial Co., recently pleaded guilty for his participation in an international conspiracy to fix the prices of aftermarket auto lights, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.

According to a one-count felony charge filed last week in U.S. District Court in San Francisco, Hsu conspired with others to suppress and eliminate competition by fixing prices of aftermarket auto lights. The Department of Justice said that Hsu participated in the conspiracy from April 2000 through September 2008.

According to the Department of Justice, Hsu and other co-conspirators met together in Taiwan and the United States, and agreed to charge prices of aftermarket auto lights at certain predetermined levels. Participants in the conspiracy issued price announcements and price lists in accordance with the agreements reached, and collected and exchanged information on prices and sales to monitor and enforce adherence to the agreed pricing structure.

Polo Shu-Sheng Hsu, former president and CEO of Maxzone Vehicle Lighting Corp., a U.S. distributor of aftermarket auto lights, was given a $25,000 criminal fine and sentenced to 180 days in prison in March 2011 for his role in the conspiracy, according to the Department of Justice. The company was sentenced to pay a $43 million criminal fine.

Chien Chung Chen, former executive vice president of Sabry Lee Inc., also a U.S. distributor of aftermarket auto lights, pleaded guilty in June 2011 for his participation in the conspiracy. The Department of Justice said he is scheduled for sentencing in October. Sabry was also sentenced to pay a $200,000 criminal fine.

In addition, a federal grand jury indicted Eagle Eyes Traffic Industrial Co. and its U.S. subsidiary E-Lite Automotive Inc. in November 2011 for its role in the conspiracy, the Department of Justice said. The company’s two highest-ranking officers, chairman Yu-Chu Lin and vice chairman Homy Hong-Ming Hsu, are also included in the indictment. Trial is scheduled for June in U.S. District Court in San Francisco.

“The international price-fixing conspiracy in the aftermarket auto lights industry caused harm to businesses and consumers,” said Sharis Pozen, acting assistant attorney general for the Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division. “Including today’s filing, five individuals and four corporations have been charged as a result of the Antitrust Division’s efforts to thwart this type of anticompetitive activity.”

The Department of Justice Antitrust Division’s San Francisco Field Office is working in conjunction with the San Francisco FBI to conduct the investigation.

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