updated 04:35 pm EDT, Wed July 28, 2010
3rd Chi Mei exec jailed for artificial price hikes
The Department of Justice today said a third executive from Chi Mei has plead guilty to antitrust charges of price fixing for LCDs. Wen-Hung Huang admitted to conspiring with other companies to keep screen prices artificially high between 2001 and 2006. The senior staffer's bargain will give a lighter sentence of nine months in jail and a $25,000 fine in return for cooperation that could lead to other convictions.
The illegal fixing affected mostly desktop and notebook computer displays but also affected phones, TVs and other devices that used Chi Mei panels during the five-year span. Some large companies, including Apple, Dell and HP, were affected by the price hikes and either had to raise prices or accept lower profit margins. True competition would have let the prices drop.
DOJ officials have been aggressive in trying to shut down the case, as over $890 million in fines have been levied across eight companies and 18 individual executives.
Rigged electronics prices have been gaining more scrutiny and have seen private lawsuits over LCD prices as well as similar complaints of memory price gouging in a similar timeframe.