Bridgestone reaches plea agreement with US Department of Justice

On 13 February, Bridgestone Corporation entered into a plea agreement with the US Department of Justice; this deal will see the company plead guilty to an antitrust conspiracy related to the sale of automotive anti-vibration rubber products. Bridgestone will also pay a US$425 million fine. The plea agreement is subject to the approval of the US District Court.

The Japanese manufacturer first learned of the investigation in May 2012 and became aware that between 2001 and 2008 a number of company employees engaged in activities that violated US antitrust laws. Bridgestone Corporation states it “is confident” the activities that led to the charges ceased in 2008. The company now intends to “take appropriate disciplinary action against certain responsible employees” in accordance with applicable corporate standards. Bridgestone’s board members and some of its corporate officers will also forego the bonus payments they were scheduled to receive in March and forfeit a portion of their compensation to “underscore the company’s sincere regret” for this incident.

“In order to re-establish the trust of its customers and the many communities in which it does business, the Bridgestone Group will redouble its efforts to ensure full compliance with all relevant laws and regulations through enhanced education, training and regular internal reviews and assessments,” wrote Bridgestone in a statement on 14 February. “The management of the Bridgestone Group is fully committed to ensuring that its global operations and businesses are conducted in an ethical and legal manner. They sincerely regret the actions that resulted in this plea agreement and that they did not discover these activities at an earlier date.”

As a result of entering into the plea agreement, Bridgestone Corporation will record a special loss of ¥44.79 billion (£263.6 million) for the fiscal year ending 31 December 2013. There will be no revision to Bridgestone Corporation’s 2013 consolidated financial projections as reported in August 2013.

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