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FBI raids Toyota suppliers

NEW YORK — The FBI raided the U.S. headquarters of three auto parts suppliers 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 this evening.

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.

Kerr said the company is cooperating with the investigation, but declined to offer details of what the government was looking for. Kerr said the investigation is unrelated to Toyota’s recent recalls.

A Yazaki spokeswoman said the company was drafting a statement in respond to questions about the raid. A Tokai spokesman could not immediately be reached for comment.

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.

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