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Hitachi pays $31 million fine for fixing panel prices

On the fiddle
Wed Mar 11 2009, 13:07

THE COMPANY that sounds like a sneeze, Hitachi has agreed to pay $31 million and plead guilty to charges of fixing the price of LCD panels with three of its rivals.

Hitachi, LG, Sharp and Chunghwa Picture Tubes have all admitted agreeing to fix the prices of panels shipped to US companies and paid $585 million between them to avoid more trouble.

The conspiracy that dates back as far as 2001.

Hitachi and the three other manufacturers conspired to charge system vendors such as Dell and Apple artificially high market rates for components in TFT-LCD displays, according to the US DoJ.

Hitachi's dealings are said to have been limited to Dell for a period of roughly three years between 2001 and 2004.

Fat-panelThe fine is by far the smallest handed out to a company involved in the shenanigans. Late last year, LG Display agreed to pay $400 million (£291 million) for its role in the conspiracy, while Sharp paid $120 million (£87million) and Chunghwa $65million (£47 million).

Several executives within the companies also pleaded guilty, and were sentenced to jail and fines ranging from $20,000 to $50,000 (£14,500 to £36,300).

Scott Hammond, acting assistant attorney general in charge of the DoJ's anti-trust division reckons, "This case should send a strong message to multinational companies operating in the US that, when it comes to enforcing US anti-trust laws, we mean business." µ





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