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Hitachi will plead guilty to LCD price-fixing

The Japan-based electronics firm has agreed to pay a £22m fine as part of its deal with the US Justice Department
Written by Andrew Nusca, Contributor

Hitachi has agreed to plead guilty to conspiring to fix prices on the sale of LCD panels.

The Japan-based electronics firm agreed to pay a $31m (£22m) fine as part of its deal with the US Justice Department.

Hitachi admitted to fixing prices of the screens sold to Dell for use in desktop monitors and notebook computers from 2001 to 2004. Three other major producers of LCD panels have already admitted their involvement in price-fixing.

LG, Sharp and Chunghwa Picture Tubes struck similar plea agreements last year relating to their sales of displays.

A one-count felony charge was filed today in federal court in San Francisco.

With the Hitachi plea, the US government will have made more than $600m in criminal fines stemming from LCD price-fixing.

"This case should send a strong message to multinational companies operating in the United States that when it comes to enforcing the US antitrust laws we mean business," acting assistant attorney general Scott Hammond said in a statement.

The court papers charge that Hitachi participated in meetings and communications in Japan, Korea and the US to discuss the prices of screens sold to Dell, at which they agreed to set certain prices.

Regulators in Asia and the European Union also have opened investigations into pricing for LCDs, a worldwide market worth roughly $70bn.

Last year, LG Display, a South Korean company, and its LG Display America unit agreed to pay a $400m fine for its part in fixing prices of certain LCD panels from 2001 to 2006.

Chunghwa, a Taiwanese company, agreed to pay $65m for its role in the scheme.

And Sharp, a Japanese company, agreed to pay $120m for participating in separate conspiracies to fix the price of certain LCD panels sold to Dell, Motorola and Apple. Those panels were used in computer monitors, laptops, Motorola Razr mobile phones and Apple's iPod portable music players.

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