Epson coughs to price fixing scam

Washington (DC) – Epson has been fined $26 million for its part in a price-fixing scam, says the US Justice Department.

Epson Imaging Devices pleaded guilty to conspiring to fix prices of LCD panels sold to Motorola for use in its Razr phones between fall 2005 and summer 2006. A one-count felony charge was filed against Epson on Tuesday in the US District Court in San Francisco.

As part of the deal, Epson has also agreed to cooperate with a Justice Department investigation into price-fixing by electronics companies from Japan, South Korea and Taiwan.

Managers from nine Asian electronics companies have so far been charged in connection with the probe and, since late last year, the Justice Department has levied fines totaling $616 million on LG, Sharp, Chunghwa and Hitachi.

LG was fined $400 million, Sharp $120 million, Chunghwa $65 million and Hitachi $31 million.

LG’s fine has the dubious distinction of being the second-highest ever to be imposed in a US antitrust case. The highest was $500 million paid by Hoffmann-La Roche in 1999 for fixing vitamin prices.