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Capacitor maker zapped with price-fixing charge

Shocking development in the current affairs circuit

A Japanese electronics maker has been indicted in America for fixing the prices of electrolytic capacitors.

The US Department of Justice suspects Nippon Chemi-Con was one of eight global manufacturers that conspired to drive up the price of the ubiquitous components for more than 15 years. The indictment is part of an ongoing campaign by the DoJ to break up the global capacitor price-fixing ring that has also included the likes of Hitachi Chemical and NEC Tokin.

According to prosecutors, between 1997 and 2014, Nippon Chemi-Con and the other manufacturers illegally inflated the price of capacitors by agreeing to rig bids they gave to electronics suppliers and fabricating reasons why the prices were remaining high.

The higher prices then allowed the suppliers to continue to charge top dollar (or in this case top cent) for the bulk capacitor orders they signed with the companies that make devices that rely on capacitors, such as PCs, monitors, and TV sets, among other things.

This conspiracy, the DoJ alleges, was forged by executives within the various manufacturers in a series of meetings held in the US and overseas, and the instructions for the price fixing were then distributed throughout the organizations.

All of this is said to have been done in violation of US Code Section 15 Chapter 1 provisions on antitrust and monopoly behavior.

"Today’s indictment affirms the Antitrust Division’s commitment to holding companies accountable for conspiring to cheat American consumers," Assistant Attorney General Makan Delrahim said. "The Division will prosecute companies—no matter where they are located—that violate U.S. antitrust laws."

The indictment against Nippon Chemi-Con comes after four of its executives, Takuro Isawa, Takeshi Matsuzaka, Kaname Takahashi, Yasutoshi Ohno, were charged for their individual roles in the conspiracy. ®

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