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Panasonic fined $1.5m for price fixing

Panasonic Corporation has been fined $1.5 million by the US Federal Court after pleading guilty to a criminal charge that it fixed the price of hermetic refrigeration compressors sold to a refrigerator and freezer manufacturer in Canada.

The Bureau’s investigation revealed that Panasonic conspired with Embraco North America Inc. and other competitors to fix the price of hermetic refrigeration compressors sold in Canada, and elsewhere, from January 2005 to December 2005. The compressors were used in the manufacture of various brand-name chest freezers.

Melanie Aitken, Commissioner of Competition, says: “Cartels impose higher prices for goods and services and deprive consumers and businesses of the benefits of competition.”

Panasonic sold hermetic refrigeration compressors to W.C. Wood Corporation from its manufacturing base in Japan. Prior to negotiating their annual supply contract, Panasonic and Embraco exchanged information on their hermetic refrigeration compressor prices, production capacities and other market intelligence, and agreed to increase the price for hermetic refrigeration compressors sold to W.C. Wood Corporation in Canada.

Panasonic’s penalty brings the total fines in this case to $3 million. Embraco recently pleaded guilty and was fined for its role in the conspiracy. Panasonic’s plea marks the end of the Bureau’s investigation into this matter.

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