LG, Sharp, Chunghwa Fined $585 Million for Price-Fixing of LCD Panels

LG Display fine is second-highest ever levied by Justice Departments Antitrust Division.

The U.S. Department of Justice imposed fines totaling $585 million on three leading Asian electronics manufacturers on Wednesday after they agreed to plead guilty to price-fixing. LG Display Co. Ltd., Sharp Corp. and Chunghwa Picture Tubes Ltd. had acknowledged their roles in conspiracies to fix prices of liquid crystal display (LCD) panels, the department said in a statement. South Korea's LG Display was hit with the largest fine -- $400 million -- the second-highest criminal fine ever imposed by the Justice Department's Antitrust Division. Japan's Sharp will pay a fine of $120 million while Taiwan's Chunghwa will pay a fine of $65 million, the department said. The firms agreed to plead guilty to charges filed in a U.S. District Court in San Francisco and cooperate with the ongoing antitrust investigation, the department said, noting the guilty pleas were subject to court approval. LCD panels are used in computer monitors, televisions, mobile phones and other electronic devices and the price-fixing had an impact on computer, television and cellular telephone manufacturers such as Apple, Dell and Motorola, the department said. "Todays charges and criminal fines emphasize the commitment of the Department of Justice to crack down on international cartels," Attorney General Michael Mukasey said. Assistant Attorney General Thomas Barnett said the price-fixing "affected millions of American consumers who use computers, cell phones and numerous other household electronics every day. According to the Justice Department, the companies engaged in price-fixing between 2001 and 2006 involving LCDs sold to Dell for its computer monitors and laptops, Motorola for its Razr mobile phones, and Apple for its iPod portable music player, among others. The Justice Department said the criminal fine levied on LG Display is the second-largest after the record antitrust fine of $500 million handed down against Swiss pharmaceutical giant F. Hoffmann-La Roche Ltd. in 1999 for fixing vitamin prices. Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2008

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