WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Two executives at Japan's Denso Corp have agreed to plead guilty to conspiring to fix prices of electronic auto parts sold to Toyota and will cooperate with an ongoing criminal investigation, the U.S. Justice Department said on Tuesday.
The settlement is the latest in a wide-ranging investigation into price fixing for a variety of car parts that has ensnared nine companies and elicited guilty pleas from 14 executives.
The Denso executives, Yuji Suzuki and Hiroshi Watanabe, both Japanese nationals, will serve time in U.S. prison and pay a criminal fine, the department said. Suzuki agreed to serve a 16-month sentence while Watanabe negotiated 15 months.
Denso itself pleaded guilty in the conspiracy and agreed to pay a $78 million fine last year.
The two men agreed to plead guilty to conspiring to fix the prices of heater control panels that regulate a car's temperature and were sold to Japan's Toyota Motor Corp and a U.S. subsidiary, the Justice Department said.
Suzuki also agreed to plead guilty to conspiring to fix the prices of electronic control units, which regulate power windows, power locks and other electrical systems.
In addition to the prison sentence, each man must also pay a fine of $20,000 and cooperate with the ongoing investigation.
The Justice Department's Antitrust Division has also settled with Autoliv , Tokai Rika Co Ltd , TRW Deutschland Holding GmbH, Nippon Seiki Col Ltd, Fujikura Ltd , Furukawa Electric Co Ltd , Yazaki Corp and G.S. Electech.
The European Commission has a parallel investigation under way.
(Reporting by David Ingram and Diane Bartz; Editing by Gerald E. McCormick and Leslie Gevirtz)