Exec faces $1m fine in LCD price-fixing case

A former employee of Taiwanese display manufacturer Chi Mei has been charged with participating in a conspiracy to control prices of TFT-LCD panels
Written by Ben Woods, Contributor on

A former executive of Taiwanese display maker Chi Mei Optoelectronics has been charged with participating in an LCD display price-fixing conspiracy, which carries a potential penalty of 10 years in prison and a million-dollar fine.

Hsin-Tsung Wang, former vice president of sales and marketing for the thin-film transistor (TFT) liquid-crystal display (LCD) manufacturer, took part in the long-running scam from 1 September, 2001, until at least 1 December, 2006, according to the indictment filed in a San Francisco court.

Wang "carried out the conspiracy by agreeing to fix prices of TFT-LCD panels during secret meetings and issuing price quotations in accordance with the agreements reached" within a display cartel, the US Department of Justice said in a statement on Thursday.

He is also accused of exchanging TFT-LCD panel sales information with others in the cartel to make sure that all participants were keeping to the pricing agreements.

The charges are covered by the Sherman Antitrust Act, which carries a fine of up to $1m (£623,000) or twice the amount of the monies gained, and a prison term of up to a decade.

To date, the department has indicted 20 executives at eight companies that it believes collaborated in controlling prices, and it has collected $890m in fines. LG, Sharp and Hitachi are among those that have paid penalties for participating.

The agency's investigation has been followed by a court case from Dell, which has accused five manufacturers of price fixing, and a lawsuit from Nokia, which is suing Samsung, LG and other manufacturers for similar actions.

In December, Chi Mei elected to pay a fine of $220m for participating in the scam and agreed to co-operate with US regulators. Executives at the company who have admitted guilt include Jau-Yang Ho, who received a 14-month jail sentence and a $50,000 fine, and Chu-Hsiang Yang, who received nine months in jail and a fine of $25,000.

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