• Kyodo

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The U.S. Justice Department has arrested eight executives of six companies from four nations, including one from Japan’s Bridgestone Corp., over a suspected cartel to fix prices for marine hose used to transport oil.

The eight, who also include three from British firms and two each from French and Italian companies, were arrested for their alleged role “in a conspiracy to rig bids, fix prices at various times from at least 1999 to the present,” the department said in a statement.

Misao Hioki was identified as the person arrested from Bridgestone, one of the world’s largest automobile tire makers. Hioki is an executive involved in the sale of marine hose.

The eight are suspected of meeting in such locations as Key Largo, Fla., Bangkok and London, and mostly recently in Houston on Tuesday. The statement said the conspiracy resulted in sales of an estimated “hundreds of millions of dollars worth of marine hose and related products.”

Marine hose is flexible rubber hose used to transport oil between tankers and storage facilities and buoys. Large-lot customers include major oil refiners involved in the off-shore extraction and transportation of petroleum products, as well as the U.S. Defense Department.

The latest investigation was carried out by the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division, the Defense Department’s Office of Inspector General, the U.S. Navy Criminal Investigative Service and the FBI.

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