updated 02:55 pm EDT, Tue March 10, 2009
Hitachi Guilty in LCD Fix
Hitachi this afternoon said it had pled guilty to rigging the prices of its LCD panels and agreed to pay a $31 million fine. The agreement with a US District Court in San Francisco finds that Hitachi held meetings with Dell that illegally set prices for computer LCD displays by agreeing to prices in advance and artificially adjusting the actual quoted prices to match the target. Hitachi's move effectively let the company set its own prices independently of the market between April 2001 and March 2004.
While significant, the plea is the latest in a slew of those from southeast Asian firms. Chungwa, LG and Sharp have themselves already paid $585 million in fines for similar activities between 2001 and 2006 that helped keep prices for HDTVs and other displays high.
Hitachi's punishment is comparatively light, as LG alone was fined $400 million for violating antitrust laws and has seen one of its executives indicted. Sharp was ordered to pay $120 million for fixing the prices on Apple, Dell and Motorola displays, while Chungwa was not only told to pay a $65 million fine but has had four of its executives either imprisoned or indicted.