An executive of AU Optronics Corp., a Taiwan-based liquid crystal display (LCD) producer, was sentenced today in U.S. District Court in San Francisco for his participation in a worldwide thin-film transistor-liquid crystal display (TFT-LCD) price-fixing conspiracy. Shiu Lung Leung, AU Optronics Corp.’s former senior manager in its Desktop Display Business Group, was sentenced to serve 24 months in prison and to pay a $50,000 criminal fine, the Department of Justice announced.
AU Optronics Corp., based in Hsinchu, Taiwan, and its American subsidiary, AU Optronics Corp. America, headquartered in Milpitas, Calif., were found guilty in March 2012, for their participation in the price-fixing conspiracy, following an eight-week trial. Former AU Optronics Corp. president Hsuan Bin Chen and former AU Optronics Corp. executive vice president Hui Hsiung were also found guilty at that time. A mistrial was declared against Leung after that trial. Today’s sentencing took place before Judge Susan Illston and follows a three-week retrial that started in November 2012 and resulted in Leung’s conviction.
“These international price-fixers caused consumers to pay inflated prices for their computer monitors, notebook computers and televisions,” said Assistant Attorney General Bill Baer in charge of the Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division. “Prison sentences for culpable executives, combined with substantial fines against corporate wrongdoers, are the most effective deterrents for protecting consumers from this kind of illegal cartel behavior.”
The indictment charged that AU Optronics Corp. participated in the worldwide price-fixing conspiracy from Sept. 14, 2001, to Dec. 1, 2006, and that its subsidiary joined the conspiracy as early as spring 2003. The indictment further charged that Leung participated in that conspiracy from May 15, 2002 to Dec. 1, 2006. LCD panels affected by the conspiracy were a major component in flat-panel computer monitors, notebook computers, and flat-screen televisions sold in the United States. The conspirators fixed the prices of LCD panels during monthly meetings with their competitors, which were secretly held in hotel conference rooms, karaoke bars and tea rooms around Taiwan.
Eight companies have been convicted of charges arising out of the department’s ongoing investigation and have been sentenced to pay criminal fines totaling $1.39 billion. All together, 22 executives have been charged. Including today’s sentence, 13 executives have been convicted and have been sentenced to serve prison terms ranging from six to 36 months.
Today’s charges are the result of a joint investigation by the Department of Justice Antitrust Division’s San Francisco office and the FBI in San Francisco. Anyone with information concerning illegal conduct in the LCD industry is urged to call the Antitrust Division’s San Francisco office at 415-436-6660 or visit www.justice.gov/atr/contact/newcase.html