The U.S. Department of Justice has announced that four executives from LG Display Co. Ltd. and Chunghwa Picture Tubes Ltd. have agreed to plead guilty to charges they conspired to fix prices for TFT-LCD displays from late 2001 through mid-2006. And, in addition to paying criminal fines and helping the government with its investigation, all four execs will serve jail time. Terms range from six to nine months, with Chunghwa’s former chairman and CEO Chieng-Hon Lin, a Taiwanese and U.S. citizen, drawing the long straw with a nine-month sentence and a $50,000 fine.
"These cases involve the first Taiwanese nationals to face imprisonment in the United States for an antitrust offense," said Acting Assistant Attorney General for Antitrust Deborah A. Garza, in a statement. "The Department of Justice is committed to holding accountable all conspirators who harm American consumers, no matter where they live or where they commit the crime."
The Justice Department charged the executives with being part of an ongoing conspiracy to fix prices for TFT-LCD displays, including holding meetings to pre-determine price points for TFT-LCD panels, issuing pricing quotes in accordance with those agreements, and exchanging sales data so they could mutually enforce and monitor adherence to the agreements. The execs also authorized, ordered, and consented to employees participating in their conspiracy.
The guilty pleas follow Sharp, LG, and Chunghwa pleading guilty to conspiring to fix LCD prices last November, which impacted the prices paid for LCD panels used by device makers like Dell, Motorola, and Apple. Chunghwa agreed to a $65 million, Sharp agreed to pay $120 million, and LG agreed to pay a whopping $400 million in penalties, which was the second-largest fine in the history of the DOJ’s antitrust division.