THE UNITED STATES' Department of Justice (DoJ) is pursuing a hard line against the Taiwanese LCD firm AU Optronics, and has demanded that it pay a $1bn fine for price fixing.
AU Optronics was not the only firm said to be involved in the price fixing cartel, but it seems to be the one that the DoJ wants to punish most. As well as the fine it is arguing that two former executives, Hsuan Bin Chen and Hui Hsiung, should have to serve up to ten years in prison.
In July AU Optronics along with Toshiba and LG agreed to pay $571m to settle a lawsuit over alleged price fixing, though at that time the judge hearing the case had not approved the offer.
According to documents released by the DoJ this week, it is demanding more money from AU Optronics. The amount of damages requested has been worked out by calculations based on how much money the firm made from selling its screens to various hardware firms including Dell, Apple and HP.
Meetings known as Crystal Meetings took place among representatives of the firm and its peers for a number of years, according to DoJ documents, and saw the companies collude to fix the prices of LCD screens.
When the meetings were noticed after two of companies being supplied by the cartel cottoned onto the scam, they became less formal, and were held in karaoke bars and the like.
It is estimated that as many as 20 million end user consumers could have been affected by the LCD price fixing.
AU Optronics has not yet responded to our request for comment. µ
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