CADE’s General Superintendence investigates cartel in electronic power steering systems for automobiles
The General Superintendence of the Administrative Council for Economic Defense – CADE published on this Monday (March 28) its decision of opening Administrative Proceeding to investigate an alleged cartel in the national and international market of electronic power steering systems (“EPS”) for automobiles, with effects in Brazil (PA 08700.003735/2015-02). EPS are components that helps drivers steer by augmenting steering effort of the steering wheel.
The investigated companies are JTEKT Corporation, JTEKT Automotiva Brasil Ltda., NSK Brasil Ltda., NSK Europe Ltd., NSK Ltd., Showa Corporation, Showa do Brasil Ltda., TRW Automotive Ltda. e Yamada Manufacturing Co., Ltd.
According to the opinion, there is strong evidence that the companies exchanged sensitive commercial information about prices, quotations and sales volume on the market. Furthermore, the companies may have concluded agreements, in Brazil and elsewhere, with the purpose of fixing prices and other trading conditions, as well as to allocate bids for customers and share markets among them.
According to the Superintendence, the actions were taken by at least 19 individuals connected to the investigated companies and were implemented through e-mail exchanges, telephonic contacts and in-person meetings which occurred between 2007 e 2011, at least.
With the opening of the Administrative Proceeding, the parties will be notified to present their defenses. At the end of the investigation phase, the General Superintendence will issue an opinion on the condemnation or on the filling of the case and will submit it for judgment by CADE’s Tribunal, which is responsible for the final decision.
Investigation in the sector: In 2014 and 2015, the General Superintendence opened nine Administrative Proceedings to investigate cartels from different automobile parts. Among them, there are the ones related to the sparking plugs sector (Administrative Proceeding Nº 08700.005789/2014-13), anti-friction bearings (Administrative Proceeding Nº 08012.005324/2012-59), clutch coating (Administrative Proceeding Nº 08700.010321/2012-89), thermal systems, which include radiators, capacitors and heating systems, ventilation and air conditioning (Administrative Proceeding Nº 08700.010323/2012-78), windshield wipers (Administrative Proceeding Nº 08700.010320/2012-34), safety devices for automobiles, like safety belts, airbags and steering wheels (Administrative Proceeding Nº 08700.004631/2015-15), shock absorber (Administrative Proceeding Nº 08700.004629/2015-38), wire harnesses and automotive electrical and electronic components (PA 08700.009029/2015-66), and ceramic substrates used in automotive catalytic converters. (PA 08700.009167/2015-45).
Another four markets were already the object from dawn raids complied by the General Superintendence in August 2014, which still may result on the opening of new Administrative Proceedings. The markets are the following: automotive lighting (headlights, flashlights and brake lights); emergency switches (hazard lights and turn signal switch); access mechanisms (cylinders set, handles, locks and steering locks) and automotive clutches. There are still other investigations ongoing in the car parts sector.