AU Optronics exec behind bars for price fixing

A former AU Optronics executive has been sentenced following allegations of price fixing in the LCD market.


Former senior manage of AU Optronics Steven Leung has been sentenced to two years in prison and fined $50,000 for his role in the price fixing of liquid crystal displays.

The U.S. Justice Department found Leung guilty of price fixing particular LCD displays in December. The former executive was found guilty of price fixing between 2002 and 2006, joining another two executives who were found guilty of participating in the scheme, and one other AU Optronics executive was acquitted.

Prosecutors believe that Leung was a key figure in the conspiracy. Leung was allegedly responsible for organizing "crystal meetings" where representatives from firms involved in the scheme would agree on prices for their liquid-crystal display products -- used in televisions and for computer screens. San Francisco-based District Judge Susan Illston said that the former executive took part in a "serious, far-reaching conspiracy" that had "substantial consequences to the U.S. market."

According to Reuters, the Taiwanese firm itself was found guilty of price fixing LCDs with the help of competitors in order to keep prices high and control competition.

Rivals LG Display Co., Chunghwa Picture Tubes, Chi Mei Optoelectronics Corp. and Sharp Corp. were all also accused of price fixing by U.S. antitrust authorities. These firms pleaded guilty to the charges, and are due to pay over $890 million in fines. Samsung Electronics secured an early deal with prosecutors to avoid conviction.

AU Optronics plans to appeal the ruling. After a federal jury in San Francisco found the Taiwanese firm guilty of price fixing in March last year, AU Optronics said in a statement it was "deeply disappointed", and "intends to appeal the verdict and any fine." Such verdicts could leave the electronics maker with a fine reaching $1 billion.