Thu, Dec 15, 2011 - Page 10 News List

Hitachi-LG execs plead guilty to bid rigging, price fixing

AFP, Washington

Three South Korean executives have pleaded guilty to rigging bids and fixing prices of optical disk drives and agreed to serve prison terms in the US, the US Department of Justice said on Tuesday.

Park Young-keun, Kim Sang-hun and Sik Hur, who is also known as Daniel Hur, took part in a price-fixing conspiracy between 2005 and 2009 while working for Hitachi-LG Data Storage (HLDS), the department said in a statement.

According to US authorities, the three rigged bids for optical disk drives sold to US computer makers Dell and Hewlett--Packard and fixed prices for the devices sold to US software giant Microsoft.

HLDS is a joint venture between Japan’s Hitachi Ltd and South Korea’s LG Electronics. Optical disk drives such as CD-ROMs are frequently used in personal computers and game consoles.

The justice department said that under a plea agreement, Park and Kim will serve eight months in a US prison while Hur will serve seven months. Each will pay a US$25,000 fine.

“Today’s plea agreements demonstrate the [justice department’s] Antitrust Division’s continued commitment to protect competition in the high-tech industry,” acting assistant attorney--general Sharis Pozen said.

“The division will continue to pursue and prosecute those who participate in bid-rigging and price-fixing conspiracies that harm businesses and consumers in the optical disk drive industry,” Pozen said.

HLDS pleaded guilty last month to 14 counts of violating US antitrust laws and was ordered to pay a fine of US$21.1 million.

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