WASHINGTON – A federal grand jury in San Francisco returned an indictment against a former executive of a Taiwan thin-film transistor liquid crystal display (TFT-LCD) producer for participating in a global conspiracy to fix prices of TFT-LCD panels, the Department of Justice announced today.
The indictment, returned in U.S. District Court in San Francisco today, charges that Hsin-Tsung Wang participated in a conspiracy to fix the prices of TFT-LCD panels sold worldwide. Wang, a resident of Taiwan and the former vice president of sales and marketing of Chi Mei Optoelectronics Corporation, is charged with participating in the conspiracy from at least as early as Sept. 14, 2001, and continuing at least until Dec. 1, 2006.
TFT-LCD panels are used in computer monitors and notebooks, televisions, mobile phones and other electronic devices. By the end of the charged conspiracy period, the worldwide market for TFT-LCD was valued at $70 billion. Companies directly affected by the LCD price-fixing conspiracy include some of the largest computer and television manufacturers in the world, including Apple, Dell and Hewlett Packard.
According to the one count felony charge, Wang and co-conspirators carried out the conspiracy by agreeing to fix prices of TFT-LCD panels during secret meetings and issuing price quotations in accordance with the agreements reached. As a part of the conspiracy, Wang is also alleged to have exchanged information on sales of TFT-LCD panels for the purpose of monitoring and enforcing adherence to the agreed-upon prices.
Including today’s filing, 20 executives and eight companies have been charged in the department’s ongoing investigation into price fixing in the LCD industry. As a result of this investigation, to date, more than $890 million in criminal fines have been obtained.
Wang is charged with violating the Sherman Act, which carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $1 million fine for individuals. The maximum fine may be increased to twice the gain derived from the crime or twice the loss suffered by the victims if either of those amounts is greater than the statutory maximum fine.
Today’s charge is the result of a joint investigation by the Department of Justice Antitrust Division’s San Francisco Field Office and the FBI in San Francisco.
Anyone with information concerning illegal antitrust conduct in the TFT-LCD industry is urged to call the Antitrust Division’s San Francisco Field Office at 415-436-6660 or visit www.justice.gov/atr/contact/newcase.htm.