If you bought a new car ten years ago, you may have felt like you paid more than you should have. Maybe you hadn’t imagined things. In 2013, officials uncovered a massive global price-fixing conspiracy among major auto parts makers.
This conspiracy to raise auto parts prices has affected car prices for nearly every major automaker. For years, auto parts makers have held backroom meetings to rig bids and drive up the cost of everything from seatbelts to radiators to spark plugs, with exorbitant costs passed on to the buyer. .
Award-winning lawyer Omar Ochoa was at the forefront of the battle to eliminate the parts manufacturers involved in the collusion. Ochoa currently runs her own law firm, Omar Ochoa Law Firmbut while working at a former company, he played a vital role in stopping the auto parts conspiracy and in the biggest takeover for indirect buyers in US history.
A global collusion
Problems began to grow in the auto parts industry more than a decade ago when a competition agency in Japan, a group responsible for regulating competition in some countries, uncovered possible price fixing. among a handful of Japanese auto parts manufacturers. Much like peeling an onion, once they started digging the problem only escalated.
“It was a handful of people driving this,” Ochoa remarks. “Yet the impact has been global.”
Antitrust agencies around the world have become involved in uncovering the intricacies of the plot. After an exhaustive investigation, twenty companies were found to be involved in the conspiracy, and approximately $5 billion was made selling the parts to automakers. About 25 million car purchases were directly affected by the price fixing.
“The macro effect of that was stunning,” says Ochoa.
Bring the conspirators to justice
Ochoa’s role in bringing justice to the estimated 25 million car buyers affected by this scheme has been significant.
“I put a lot of time and work into it,” he explains, “but it was a team effort. Three law firms were leading the case. I did a lot of legwork to put the pieces together that determined the extent of this collusion.
Ochoa demonstrates professional humility when discussing his role in this record-breaking affair. Bringing down the parts makers responsible for the conspiracy was a massive team effort, involving multiple law firms, government officials, automakers and buyers participating in class action lawsuits. However, the far-reaching effect that Ochoa’s extreme efforts had on the overall outcome of the case cannot be overstated.
For all of his work on this case, Ochoa was awarded the Outstanding Achievement of Antitrust Litigation by a Young Lawyer American Antitrust Institute award at a ceremony in Washington, DC. The landmark case was widely documented and cemented Ochoa’s reputation as a young Latino lawyer and jurist.
The conspiracy to rig auto parts bids affected about ten different automakers and managed to fly under the radar for nearly a decade before being discovered.
“It illustrates how the injustice of a few can have a global impact,” says Ochoa.
Once the conspiracy was uncovered, the companies involved began cooperating with the investigation. This is where Ochoa’s role in the case kicked into high gear. The steps included managing court records, hearings, depositions, interviewing employees who admitted collusion, and gathering information about the co-conspirators and their activities.
In the end, the twenty companies involved in the conspiracy agreed to plead guilty and pay more than $1.6 billion in fines.
At the time of the plea deals, Eric Holder, the United States Attorney General, promised a thorough investigation and swift justice.
“We will continue to check under every hood and kick every tire to make sure we put an end to this illegal and destructive driving,” Holder said. Reuters in 2013.
Since opening her own practice, Ochoa has continued the tradition of fighting hard for what is right and winning commendable settlements for her clients. His successes run the gamut from healthcare whistleblower cases to million dollar settlements for commercial contract disputes.
In addition, he has filed bribery and Medicare and Medicaid fraud claims against health care providers and medical equipment suppliers. Ochoa himself continues to be recognized as one of the nation’s top young litigators, with much of his work fighting for the “little guy” against unscrupulous corporations and organizations.
The child of parents who grew up as migrant workers and earned advanced degrees, Ochoa always valued hard work. The dedication and tenacity with which he focused on the auto parts conspiracy case carried over into every case he has pursued since.
“It’s about striving for excellence. It’s wanting to be at the top of my game,” says Ochoa of the driving force behind his practice, “It’s wanting to be the best lawyer possible, to provide the best service possible to our clients. This is my biggest motivation. »
Posted on April 16, 2022