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FBI raids Toyota suppliers in antitrust probe

NEW YORK (AP) - The FBI raided the U.S. offices of three auto
suppliers to Toyota and other manufacturers as part of an antitrust
investigation, the agency said Wednesday.
The FBI's Detroit office said agents raided the offices of Denso
Corp, Yazaki North America and Tokai Rika. All the raids took place
Tuesday evening. There was no immediate indication the
investigation involved the safety of the auto parts.
Justice Department spokeswoman Gina Talamona said the department
is conducting an investigation of automotive electronics suppliers.
It was unclear if other companies were involved in the
investigation.
"The antitrust division is investigating the possibility of
anticompetitive cartel conduct," Talamona said in a statement.
"We are coordinating with the European Commission and other
foreign competition authorities."
Denso spokeswoman Julie Kerr says the search of the company's
office - which oversees Denso's operations in North and South
America and is located in Southfield, Mich. - took place on
Tuesday. She declined to offer details of the investigation but
said it is unrelated to Toyota's recent recalls.
Yazaki spokeswoman Shefali Cromer said FBI agents searched its
U.S. headquarters in Canton, Mich., as well as offices in
Lexington, Ky., and Columbus, Ohio. Cromer, whose company makes
electronics for several automakers, said the officials reviewed
documents, but she was unaware of the nature of the investigation.
Tokai Rika spokesman Joe Rine also confirmed a raid and said the
company would be cooperating.
"We haven't done anything wrong. We'll supply them with all the
information," said Joe Rine, a local spokesman for Tokia Rika,
which makes interior components for Toyota, Ford Motor Co., General
Motors Co. and Nissan Motor Co.
A person familiar with the antitrust investigation said it
involves possible discussions among the parts suppliers, not the
safety of the parts themselves. This person spoke on condition of
anonymity to be able to speak more fully about the matter.
Toyota is Denso's biggest customer and is one of two suppliers
of its gas pedals. While gas pedals from the other supplier, CTS
Corp., were involved in Toyota's sticky-accelerator recall, Denso's
have not been implicated.
Toyota said in a statement that it was aware of the raids but
has little information about the investigation. Toyota said it has
not been contacted by authorities.
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Yost reported from Washington.

(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)


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