DOJ indicts president of LCD maker

The U.S. Department of Justice indicted the president of Taiwanese display maker HannStar, making him the 22nd executive to be charged in an ongoing investigation into price fixing in the LCD industry.

Ding Hui Joe is charged with conspiring to eliminate competition by fixing prices of TFT-LCD panels from September 2001 through early 2006.

The panels are used in computer monitors, notebooks, TVs and mobile phones.

Joe participated in secret meetings in hotel rooms in Taipei, where executives exchanged information about panel sales to ensure that each was selling at the agreed-upon prices, the DOJ alleges.

The maximum penalty for Joe is 10 years in prison and a $1 million fine. That fine could grow, however, depending on how much the court figures he gained from the price fixing.

Last June, HannStar agreed to plead guilty to charges of price fixing and pay a $30 million criminal fine. A former director from the company, Jui Hung Wu, pleaded guilty late last year for his role in the price fixing. He agreed to spend seven months in prison, pay a $200,000 fine and help the DOJ in its investigation.

HannStar is one of eight companies the DOJ has charged with the crime, and the agency has so far collected $890 million in fines.

Some of the companies face additional legal action. Early last year Dell filed a lawsuit against Epson, Hitachi, Sharp, Toshiba and HannStar for allegedly colluding to fix LCD prices. Apple, Dell and Hewlett-Packard are among the large manufacturers affected by the price-fixing conspiracy, the DOJ said.

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