Chicago (IL) – First it was LG, Chunghwa, and Sharp, now Hitachi too has plead guilty to participating in price fixing in the LCD screen market. The US Department of Justice has estimated that the entire market for LCD Panels was about $70 billion in 2006.
The United States Department of Justice charged Hitachi with participating in meetings held in Korea, Japan and the US aimed at the discussion of LCD prices over a time span that started in April 1, 2001 and continued through March 31, 2004. Additionally, the company was accused of sharing information regarding its sales of the LCDs to Dell — which proved the company was adhering to the all-agreed-upon prices.
Last year the DOJ began announcing the companies involved in the price fixing scheme. At present, over $585 million in fines have been imposed for the criminal act, four executives from LG and Chunghwa have even plead guilty and were sentenced to jail time ranging from six to nine months, they were also forced to pay fines.
LG was fined $400 million for their role in the conspiracy following a guilty plea last December. Note that this fine is the second largest the Antitrust Division has ever imposed.
Regarding Hitachi, on Tuesday the US Department of Justice stated the company has agreed that it will pay $31 million in fines for their role in a conspiracy to fix prices on the LCD panels which were sold to Dell for use in laptops and desktop computers.
The company not only plead guilty, but also agreed to aid in the investigation being conducted by the Department of Justice by offering full cooperation. This plea agreement is still awaiting approval from the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.