The Department of Justice announced on Thursday, September 20th, that the Taiwan-based LCD manufacturer, AU Optronics Corporation, was sentenced by San Francisco District Court to pay $500 million for its involvement in price fixing.
AU Optronics Corporation is a leading producer of the “thin-film” transistor LCD in the world market. The criminal fine matches the biggest fine ever placed on a company for violation of U.S. antitrust laws.
The American subsidiary and two of the top executives were sentenced on Thursday as well. The former president, Hsuan Bin Chen, received three years in prison and a $200,000 fine. The former executive vice president, Hui Hsiung, received the same sentencing.
The judge also requires AU Optronics Corporation to print the convictions and penalties in three major publications in both the United States and Taiwan. The company must list steps it will take after the conviction as well.
Scott D. Hammond, the Deputy Assistant Attorney General for the criminal enforcement program under the Antitrust Division, stated: “This long-running price-fixing conspiracy resulted in every family, school, business, charity and government agency who bought notebook computers, computer monitors and LCD televisions during the conspiracy to pay more for these products.” Hammond also reported antitrust cases have increased in the last 5 years, thus have efforts to thwart the cases increased by the FBI.
The world market for the LCD panels was estimated at $70 billion annually. Computer manufacturers like Hewlett Packard, Dell and Apple all use the LCD panels.
The FBI has convicted eight companies in its growing investigation into antitrust. The sentencing has led to $1.39 billion in criminal fines, and 22 executives total have been charged by the FBI so far. Collectively, the executives have a combined sentencing of 4,871 days in prison.
Source: Department of Justice