San Francisco (CA) – LG Display, Sharp and Chunghwa Picture Tubes agreed to plead guilty in a LCD price fixing probe an antitrust investigation led by the U.S. Justice Department. The three manufacturers agreed to pay a total of $585 million in fines for a conspiracy that was designed to drive up prices for LCD screens in computers and consumer electronics devices such as cell phones and TVs between September 2001 and June 2006.
According to the plea filed earlier today in federal court in San Francisco, LG Display will pay $400 million, Sharp $120 million and Chunghwa Picture Tubes $65 million. LG’s portion is second highest criminal fine ever imposed by the Department’s Antitrust Division.
“Today’s charges and criminal fines emphasize the commitment of the Department of Justice to crack down on international cartels,” said Attorney General Michael Mukasey in a prepared comment. Assistant Attorney General Thomas Barnett, who is in charge of the Department’s Antitrust Division, added that “these price-fixing conspiracies affected millions of American consumers who use computers, cell phones and numerous other household electronics every day”
“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,” Barnett said. According to DisplaySearch, LG Display and Sharp are, next to Samsung, part of the three largest LCD manufacturer with products selling in the U.S. across virtually all LCD segments. The Chinese Chunghwa Picture Tubes is not listed as one of the world’s largest LCD manufacturers by DisplaySearch. The entire market volume of LCDs in 2006 was about $70 billion, the Department of Justice said.
LG and Chunghwa were charged with carrying out the conspiracy by participating in meetings and conversations that discussed TFT-LCD prices, by agreeing to certain prices, by issuing price quotes and exchanging sales information. Sharp was found guilty of fixing the prices of TFT-LCD panels that were sold to Dell, Motorola and Apple.