On May 27, 2014, Hitoshi Hirano, an executive of car heater panel manufacturer Tokai Rika, was indicted to fix the price of auto parts with other Japanese parts manufacturers.
In addition, Mr. Hirano was charged with persuading company employees to destroy records that would reveal the conspiracy. According to the indictment, Mr. Hirano learned of a Department of Justice (“DOJ”) raid in February 2012, and the same month he encouraged his employees to destroy potentially incriminating documents.
Executives and company employees must understand that the destruction of documents during and prior to a government investigation will only cause more legal problems. Because of technology advancements, the government will learn of the destruction because hitting the delete button is not the end of the document. The document still exists somewhere. The proliferation of electronic data storage means that an attempt to destroy documents is much more complicated than it used to be. A potential evidence destroyer must canvass emails, hard-drives, cloud storage spaces as well as the traditional paper copies. Those who are not thorough enough usually make a bad situation worse, as is the case of Mr. Hirano and Tokai Rikai.