Five firms in capacitor cartel fined a collective ¥6.7 billion by FTC


The Fair Trade Commission on Tuesday ordered Nippon Chemi-Con Corp. and four other manufacturers to pay about ¥6.698 billion in fines for running a price-fixing cartel for capacitors in violation of the antimonopoly law.

The fines included about ¥1.435 billion for Nippon Chemi-Con, ¥3.640 billion for Nichicon Corp., ¥1.068 billion for Rubycon Corp., ¥127 million for NEC Tokin Corp., a unit of electronics giant NEC Corp., and some ¥428 million for Matsuo Electric Co.

The commission also issued a cease-and-desist order to the five firms and manufacturer Vishay Polytech Co.

Hitachi AIC Inc. also took part in the cartel, but the unit of Hitachi Chemical Co. was exempted from the fine after voluntarily reporting its violation. Similarly, NEC Tokin saw its fine reduced.

According to the FTC, the companies agreed to hike prices for aluminum electrolytic capacitors between February 2010 and November 2011.

Nichicon, NEC Tokin and Vishay Polytech also formed a price-fixing cartel for another type of capacitor between June 2010 and October 2011.

The companies intended to raise prices in a coordinated manner to take advantage of higher material costs at the time.

Senior sales officials from the companies held a meeting every month ostensibly for studies and individually communicated with each other.

Some of the companies are being investigated by local authorities in the United States, Europe and Taiwan on suspicion of forming cartels abroad.

A Nippon Chemi-Con official said the company will consider its response to the order after examining it.

A Rubycon official said the company will take the order seriously and enforce legal compliance.