Antitrust Lawyer Blog Commentary on Current Developments

HITACHI EXECUTIVE CHARGED FOR PARTICIPATING IN ONGOING PRICE FIXING CONSPIRACY IN TFT-LCD INDUSTRY

On March 31, 2009, Sakae Someya, an executive at Hitachi Displays, Ltd. (“Hitachi”) was charged for participating in a conspiracy to suppress and eliminate competition in the Thin Film Transistor-Liquid Crystal Display (“TFT-LCD”) industry by fixing prices of TFT-LCD panels sold to Dell, Inc (“Dell”) for its use in notebook and desktop computers.
TFT-LCD panels are used in computer monitors, notebooks, televisions, mobile phones, and other electronic devices. Worldwide sales in 2006 were $70 billion. Hitachi reported $1.75 billion in annual revenue for the fiscal year ending March 2008.

The indictment alleged that Mr. Someya and his unnamed co-conspirators attended bilateral meetings where they exchanged information and agreed to charge prices of TFT-LCD panels sold to Dell at certain levels while also taking steps to conceal the conspiracy and conspiratorial contracts through various means. Mr. Someya is alleged to have participated in this conspiracy from January 2001 to December 2004.

Earlier this month Hitachi pled guilty and agreed to pay a fine of $31 million for its role in the same conspiracy. In January 2009, three former executives of three different electronics manufacturers pled guilty for their roles in a global price fixing conspiracy in the sale of TFT-LCD panels. According to the Department of Justice, these are the first individuals charged in the investigation into the TFT-LCD industry. On November 12, 2008, LG Display Co. Ltd. (“LG”), Sharp Corp. (“Sharp”), and Chunghwa Picture Tubes Ltd. (“Chunghwa”) pled guilty for their role in a conspiracy to fix prices for liquid crystal display (“LCD”) panels and agreed to pay criminal fines totaling $585 million.

 

Andre Barlow