It’s being reported that Hitachi has agreed to pay a $31 million fine for participating in the price fixing of LCD panels being sold to Dell Inc. between 2001 and 2004. Although these panels were to be used for computer monitors and not LCD TVs, Hitachi is the fourth company to be charged with price fixing LCD panels being sold to U.S. Companies. The charge filed against Hitachi in U.S. District Court in San Francisco is for “participating in a conspiracy to fix the prices of TFT-LCD sold to Dell for use in desktop monitors and notebook computers from April 1, 2001 through March 31, 2004.”
This simply couldn’t have come at a worst time for Hitachi. LCD sales have taken a huge hit in the last year because of poor economy conditions in the U.S. and around the world. Hitachi (which is based in Japan) is the fourth company to be charged with price fixing LCD panels sold to companies in the U.S. Total fines from the other three companies charged have exceeded $585 million, which makes the $31 million fine for Hitachi seem like a slap on the wrist.
I have included the exact charge against Hitachi below:
Participating in bilateral meetings, conversations and communications in Japan, Korea and the United States to discuss the prices of TFT-LCD to be sold to Dell;
Agreeing, during those bilateral meetings, conversations and communications, to charge prices of TFT-LCD to be sold to Dell at certain predetermined levels;
Issuing price quotations in accordance with the agreements reached; and
Exchanging information on sales of TFT-LCD sold to Dell, for the purpose of monitoring and enforcing adherence to the agreed-upon prices.
This is the fourth plea agreement by a company charged with participating in conspiracies to fix the prices for TFT-LCD. On Dec. 15, 2008, LG Display Co. (LG) pleaded guilty to participating in a worldwide conspiracy to fix the price for TFT-LCD and was sentenced to pay a $400 million criminal fine — the second-largest fine in Antitrust Division history. On Dec. 16, 2008, Sharp Corp. pleaded guilty to participating in three separate conspiracies to fix the prices of TFT-LCD sold to Dell, Apple Computer Inc. and Motorola Inc. and was sentenced to pay a $120 millionJan. 14, 2009, Chunghwa Picture Tubes Ltd. (Chunghwa) pleaded guilty to participating in the same worldwide conspiracy as LG, and was sentenced to pay a $65 million criminal fine. criminal fine. On
In February 2009, former Chunghwa CEO Chieng-Hon “Frank” Lin and two Chunghwa executives, Chih-Chun “C.C.” Liu and Hsueh-Lung “Brian” Lee, pleaded guilty to and were sentenced for participating in the same conspiracy as LG and Chunghwa. Lin was sentenced to serve nine months in prison and pay a $50,000 criminal fine. Liu was sentenced to serve seven months in prison and pay a $30,000 criminal fine. Lee was sentenced to serve six months in prison and pay a $20,000 criminal fine. Also in February 2009, LG executive Chang Suk “C.S.” Chung$25,000 criminal fine. pleaded guilty for his role in the same conspiracy as LG and Chunghwa. Chung was sentenced to serve seven months in prison and pay a
On Feb. 3, 2009, a federal grand jury in San Francisco returned an indictment charging two former Chunghwa executives, Cheng Yuan Lin, aka C.Y. Lin, and Wen Jun Cheng, aka Tony Cheng, and one former executive from LG, Duk Mo Koo, for their participation in the same conspiracy as LG and Chunghwa. Warrants have been issued for the arrest of all three individuals.
Today’s charge is the result of a joint investigation by the Department of Justice Antitrust Division’s San Francisco Field Office and the Federal Bureau of Investigation in San Francisco.
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