Three of the world's biggest LCD manufacturers have admitted taking part in a huge price-fixing conspiracy to drive up the price of their products.
LG, Sharp and Chunghwa Picture Tubes have all admitted their guilt after an investigation by the US Department of Justice (DoJ). The companies artificially fixed the price of thin-film transistor LCD panels from September 2001 to June 2006.
"Today's charges and criminal fines emphasise the commitment of the DoJ to crack down on international cartels," said attorney general Michael B Mukasey.
The companies have been fined a total of $585m, including a payment of $400m by LG which is the second largest fine levied by the DoJ in its history.
Sharp will pay $120m for fixing the prices it charged three major manufacturers: Dell from April 2001 to December 2006 for use in computer monitors and laptops; Motorola from autumn 2005 to mid-2006 for use in Razr mobile phones; and Apple from September 2005 to December 2006 for use in iPod portable music players.
Chunghwa Picture Tubes will pay $65m for its part in the conspiracy.
"These price-fixing conspiracies affected millions of American consumers who use computers, cell phones and numerous other household electronics every day," said Thomas O Barnett, assistant attorney general in charge of the DoJ's antitrust division.
"These convictions, and the significant fines they carry, should send a clear message that the antitrust division will vigorously investigate and prosecute illegal cartels, regardless of where they are located."
The three companies held meetings in Taiwan, Korea and the US in order to arrange the deals, which were organised to present a united front on pricing to buyers.
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