Panasonic in US price-fixing guilty plea

Panasonic TVs on display The US justice department is conducting an investigation into price-fixing

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Panasonic and its subsidiary have agreed to plead guilty to separate allegations of price-fixing, the US justice department says.

Japan's Panasonic had agreed to pay a criminal fine of $45.8m (£30m) and Sanyo to pay $10.7m, it said in a statement.

Other companies also named in the ongoing probe include South Korea's LG Chem, which will pay a $1.1m fine.

The allegations relate to car parts and notebook computer batteries.

"Including Panasonic, 11 companies and 15 executives have pleaded guilty or agreed to plead guilty and have agreed to pay a total of more than $874m in criminal fines as a result of the auto parts investigation," the department said.

Panasonic was accused of conspiring to fix the prices of switches for steering wheels, turn signals and windscreen wipers among other car parts sold to Toyota Motor.

The price-fixing took place during the period of September 2003 to February 2010, the justice department said.

Panasonic also agreed to plead guilty to conspiring from at least July 1998 to February 2010 to fix the prices of car electrical ballasts, a device that regulates voltage for car lights, sold to firms including Honda Motor, Mazda Motor and Nissan Motor.

The allegations against Sanyo and LG Chem involve the lithium ion battery cells used in notebook computer battery packs.

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