Thu, Feb 05, 2009 - Page 12 News List

Chunghwa executives indicted in US

ANTITRUST TARGET An assistant vice president of sales and marketing and a former chairman and chief executive of the firm were charged in a price-fixing conspiracy

AFP , WASHINGTON

Two former electronics executives from Taiwan and one from South Korea were charged on Tuesday with taking part in a global price-fixing conspiracy, the US Justice Department said.

A federal grand jury in San Francisco indicted former Chunghwa Picture Tubes Ltd (華映) executives Lin Cheng-yuan (林鎮源) and Cheng Wen-jun (鄭文俊), and Duk-mo Koo, a former LG Display Co Ltd executive, the department said in a statement.

They are alleged to have taken part in a global conspiracy to fix prices of liquid-crystal-display (LCD) panels between September 2001 and December 2006.

LCD panels are widely used in electronic devices including computer monitors, televisions and mobile phones.

The Justice Department said Lin, also known as C.Y. Lin, is a former chairman and chief executive of Chunghwa while Cheng, also known as Tony Cheng, served as Chunghwa’s assistant vice president of sales and marketing. Koo is a former executive vice president and chief sales officer for LG Display.

If convicted, they could face a maximum of 10 years in prison and fines of US$1 million.

“The Antitrust Division will vigorously pursue individuals who engage in antitrust crimes targeting US businesses and consumers no matter where those individuals live or commit the crime,” acting Assistant Attorney General Scott Hammond said.

“Today’s charges should make clear that there are no safe havens for international cartels that violate the US antitrust laws,” he said.

Tuesday’s charges bring to seven the number of individuals who have been indicted in connection with the case.

Three senior Chunghwa executives and one LG executive agreed last month to serve terms in a US prison ranging from six to nine months for their roles in the conspiracy and pay fines of up to US$50,000.

The Justice Department has imposed fines totaling US$585 million on LG, Chunghwa and Sharp Corp of Japan in connection with the case.

It announced on Nov. 12 that LG Display, formerly known as LG Philips LCD Co Ltd, had agreed to plead guilty to price-fixing and pay a fine of US$400 million, the second-largest in US antitrust division history.

Chunghwa was fined US$65 million while Sharp agreed to pay a US$120 million fine.

The Justice Department said LG Display engaged in price-fixing between 2001 and 2006 involving LCD panels sold worldwide.

It said Sharp was involved in price-fixing during the same period for LCDs sold to Dell for its computer monitors and laptops, Motorola for its Razr mobile phones, and Apple for its iPod portable music player.

Chunghwa was accused of fixing the prices of LCD panels sold worldwide from 2001 to 2006.

The companies held meetings and exchanged information to reach agreement on price quotations, the Justice Department said.

The fine levied on LG Display is the second-largest after the record antitrust fine of US$500 million handed down against Swiss pharmaceutical giant F. Hoffmann-La Roche Ltd in 1999 for fixing vitamin prices.

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