Ernesto Heinzelmann, former chief executive of Brazilian compressor manufacturer Embraco, faces up to 10 years in jail as one of three senior figures charged by the US Department of Justice for fixing the price of compressors.
Mr Heinzelmann was charged alongside Gerson Veríssimo, the manager of Tecumseh’s Brazilian subsidiary, and Naoki Adachi, general manager of global sales, refrigeration devices division at Panasonic Corporation. The three men were charged with “conspiring to suppress and eliminate competition by coordinating price increases for refrigerant compressors to customers in the United States and elsewhere.”
The three are the first executives charged in the ongoing investigation into the worldwide refrigerant compressors market and they face a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $1 million fine.
According to the indictment, the three men carried out the conspiracy “by participating in or directing the participation of subordinate employees in meetings and conversations to coordinate price increases of refrigerant compressors in the United States and elsewhere.”
According to the US Department of Justice, this included selling and accepting payments for the compressors at “collusive and non-competitive prices.”
Heinzelmann and Veríssimo are charged with participating in the conspiracy from at least as early as Oct.14, 2004, until on or about Dec. 31, 2007. Adachi is charged with participating in the conspiracy from at least as early as May 10, 2006, until on or about Dec. 31, 2007.
“Cracking down on international price fixing cartels has been and will continue to be among the most significant priorities for the Antitrust Division,” said Sharis A. Pozen, Acting Assistant Attorney General in charge of the Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division. “Our investigation into the refrigerant compressors industry has already resulted in two companies – Panasonic and Embraco North America – pleading guilty and paying a total of $140.9 million in criminal fines. Our investigation is continuing.”