(Updates with Bridgestone comment in sixth paragraph.)
Sept. 15 (Bloomberg) -- Bridgestone Corp., the world’s biggest tire maker, agreed to pay $28 million to settle criminal allegations it conspired to bribe government officials in Latin America, the U.S. Justice Department said.
Bridgestone will plead guilty to charges of plotting to rig bids and make corrupt payments related to the sale of products including marine hose, used to transfer oil between tankers and storage facilities, Sharis A. Pozen, acting chief of the Justice Department’s antitrust division, said today in a statement. The company said today it will withdraw from the marine hose business.
From as early as January 1999 until late May 2007, Tokyo- based Bridgestone conspired to fix prices and allocate market shares of marine hose in the U.S. and elsewhere, Pozen said. The company allegedly conspired to make payments to Latin American government officials to obtain and retain business.
As part of the agreement, Bridgestone will cooperate with the department’s investigation, according to the statement. The agreement requires court approval.
Bridgestone has dismantled its international engineered products department, closed its Houston office and terminated many of its third-party agents, the company said today in an e- mailed statement.
“We are committed to the efforts to further enhance and expand our remediation measures, and to conduct business in compliance with the competition and anticorruption laws around the world,” Bridgestone said in the statement.
Bridgestone is the fifth company to be charged in the bid- rigging investigation by the Justice Department’s antitrust division. Nine people have been convicted and sentenced for taking part in the marine-hose pricing conspiracy, including Misao Hioki, Bridgestone’s former general manager for international engineered products, according to the Justice Department statement.
Bridgestone rose 35 yen, or 2.1 percent, to 1,718 yen in Tokyo trading. The shares have climbed 11 percent in the past year.
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