updated 04:05 pm EST, Wed November 12, 2008
LG, others pay $585M fine
The US Department of Justice on Wednesday announced that LG Display, Sharp Corp. and Chunghwa Picture Tubes Ltd. plead guilty to criminal accusations of conspiring to fix prices in the sale of LCD panels and agreed to collectively pay $585 million in fines. LG will pay the majority of that amount, or $400 million, which is the second-highest criminal fine the DoJ's Antitrust Division has ever imposed. The charges were filed on Wednesday in the US District Court in San Francisco, with the three companies agreeing to cooperate with the investigation.
The three companies supply LCD panels to many smaller companies, including Apple, Dell and Motorola, in a market valued at $70 billion in 2006. LG pleaded guilty in participating in the price-fixing conspiracy between September of 2001 and June of 2006 to set prices of TFT-LCD panels artificially high. Sharp has agreed to pay a $120 million fine for participating in separate conspiracies to fix the price of LCD panels it produced and sold to Dell between April 2001 and December 2006 for use in desktop and notebook screens, Motorola from fall 2005 to mid-2006 for its RAZR handsets and Apple Computer Inc. from September 2006 to December 2006 for its iPod music players.
Chunghwa has agreed to pay the remaining $65 million in fines for joining LG and other unnamed co-conspirators between September 2001 and December 2006 in setting LCD panel prices unreasonably high across the world.
The DoJ charged LG, Sharp and Chunghwa with violating the Sherman Antitrust Act. Each violation carries a maximum fine of $100 million for corporations, but the maximum fine can be higher, to an amount that is double the sum of money gained by the offender or lost by the victim.