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Samsung to Pay $300M Fine for Price Fixing

Discussion in 'Technology' started by Galactic Phantom, Oct 13, 2005.

  1. Galactic Phantom

    Galactic Phantom TRIBE Member

    WASHINGTON (AP) - Samsung, the world's largest maker of memory chips for computers and other electronic gadgets, has agreed to plea guilty to price fixing and pay a $300 million fine, U.S. officials said Thursday.

    The penalty is the second-largest criminal antitrust fine ever and caps a three-year investigation into the largest makers of dynamic random access memory computer chips, a $7.7 billion market in the United States.

    The guilty plea to the single felony charge by South Korea-based Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. and its U.S. subsidiary, Samsung Semiconductor Inc., was to be entered Thursday in U.S. District Court in San Francisco.

    The government's acting antitrust chief, Thomas O. Barnett, said seven Samsung employees were not protected by the guilty plea, an indication they may individually face criminal antitrust charges.

    "That's a decision for us to make moving forward," Barnett said. He added that prosecuting individuals -- not just companies -- in price-fixing cases is an important deterrent against similar abuses.

    The Justice Department already has secured similar guilty pleas from two other companies and collected more than $345 million in fines.

    "Price-fixing threatens our free market system, stifles innovation and robs American consumers of the benefit of competitive prices," Attorney General Alberto Gonzales said.

    A Samsung spokesman declined to comment immediately.

    Samsung received grand jury subpoenas in connection with the investigation during 2002, and put aside $100 million late last year to pay potential criminal penalties.

    Samsung's top competitor, Seoul-based Hynix, agreed earlier this year to plead guilty to price fixing and pay a $185 million fine. Last September, rival Infineon Technologies AG of Germany agreed to a $160 million fine. Another competitor, Micron Technology Inc. of Boise, Idaho, has been cooperating with prosecutors and was not expected to face charges.

    The government accused the companies of conspiring in e-mails, telephone calls and face-to-face meetings to fix prices of memory chips between April 1999 and June 2002. The chips are used in digital recorders, personal computers, printers, video recorders, mobile phones and many other electronics.

    The government said the victims of the alleged price-fixing were Dell Inc., Compaq Computer Corp., Hewlett-Packard Co., Apple Computer Inc., International Business Machines Corp. and Gateway Inc. Barrett said Apple and Dell raised computer prices to compensate, and other companies responded by reducing the amount of memory installed in computers they sold but kept consumer prices the same.

    The investigation started in 2002, a year after memory chip prices began to climb even though the high-tech industry was in a tailspin. At the time, the hikes were attributed to tight supplies, although then-Dell Computer CEO Michael Dell blamed them on cartel-like behavior by chip makers.

  2. Rataxès

    Rataxès TRIBE Member

    Hmmmmm...so Samsung, a Japanese company has the DoJ come down on them like a ton of bricks, whereas Microsoft, a US company, gets handled with kid gloves during their antitrust suit.
  3. sohaness

    sohaness TRIBE Member

    samsung is a korean company...not japanese.

  4. Dr. Grinch

    Dr. Grinch TRIBE Member

    Are you aware of the millions upon millions of dollars it's cost microsoft to defend against their antitrust and monolopy charges in Europe?
    Swings and roundabouts man.
  5. Liquidity

    Liquidity TRIBE Member

    *victims* seems like a bit of a misnomer...
  6. MARCin

    MARCin TRIBE Member

    Wouldn't the prices of ram go up, and if so wouldn't it make just about anyone that bought ram in the past few years a victim?
  7. MalGlo

    MalGlo TRIBE Member

    Microsoft has payed out in the billions i think.. the latest was 700 million.... for the antitrust

    kid gloves my ass.

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