Executives Indicted for LCD Price-Fixing

A federal grand jury in San Francisco returned an indictment against two former executives from Chunghwa Picture Tubes and one former executive from LG Display Co. for participating in a global conspiracy to fix prices of liquid crystal display panels. The U.S. Department of Justice announced the indictment Feb. 3.

Cheng Yuan Lin, Tony Cheng, and Duk Mo Koo were charged in U.S. District Court in San Francisco with conspiring over a period of about five years, through 2006. Lin, a resident of Taiwan, was Chunghwa’s chairman and CEO at the time. Cheng, also from Taiwan, was vice president of sales and marketing for the company. Koo, a Korean citizen, was executive vice president and chief sales office for LG.

The worldwide market for LCD panels reached around $70 billion in 2006. LCDs have increasingly taken over the flat-screen TV market, edging out plasmas.

The DOJ said $585 million in criminal fines have been levied against three companies and seven people in the case. Lin, Cheng and Koo were charged with violations of the Sherman antitrust at, which carried a maximum penalty of three years in prison and a $350,000 fine per individual, for incidents occurring before June 22, 2004. The penalty was raised after that date to 10 years in the poky and a $1 million fine. Lin was charged under pre-2004 criteria; the other two, after.

Three other Chunghwa executives pled guilty to similar charges in January. All are looking at less than a year in prison and several thousands in fines.

In December, LG plead guilty and received a fine of $400 million, the largest ever levied by the DOJ antitrust division. Sharp Corp. also pled guilty to price-fixing and got a $120 million fine. Chunghwa entered a likewise plea last month and was fined $65 million.