LCD PANEL MAKER AU Optronics has been fined $500m for price fixing.
The US Department of Justice (DoJ) filed charges against AU Optronics in 2009 alleging that the firm had fixed prices. US District Judge Susan Illston found AU Optronics guilty of price fixing and ordered the firm to pay $500m for colluding with rivals to set prices of LCD screens.
AU Optronics had been facing a $1bn fine, but Judge Illston said the DoJ's demands were excessive, though she did not agree with AU Optronics' request to pay no more than $285m. Instead Judge Illston gave AU Optronics three years to pay $500m.
Judge Illston sentenced H.B. Chen, the vice chairman of AU Optronics and ex-CEO of the firm to three years in prison and levied a $200,000 fine.
AU Optronics was the only major LCD maker to take the DoJ to trial, with rival LCD makers LG, Chunghwa Display, Chi Mei and Sharp all pleading guilty and paying a total of $890m in fines.
LCD makers have been caught fixing prices before and Lidia Maher, as assistant US attorney in the DoJ's antitrust department told Judge Illston that a $500m fine wasn't enough to stop similar cartels from forming in the future.
The court also ordered AU Optronics to publicise its conviction, the sentences handed down and its ethics reform plans in three trade journals. µ
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