WASHINGTON – A federal grand jury in San Francisco returned an indictment against the current president of HannStar Display Corporation for his participation in a global conspiracy to fix prices of thin-film transistor liquid crystal display (TFT-LCD) panels, the Department of Justice announced today.
The indictment, filed today in U.S. District Court in San Francisco, charges that Ding Hui Joe, aka David Joe, conspired with others to suppress and eliminate competition by fixing the prices of TFT-LCD panels. Joe, a resident of Taiwan, is charged with participating in the conspiracy from on or about Sept. 14, 2001, until on or about Jan. 31, 2006.
TFT-LCD panels are used in computer monitors and notebooks, televisions, mobile phones and other electronic devices. By the end of the conspiracy period, the worldwide market for TFT-LCD panels was valued at $70 billion. Companies directly affected by the LCD price-fixing conspiracy are some of the largest computer and television manufacturers in the world, including Apple, Dell and Hewlett Packard.
According to the one-count felony charge, Joe participated in the conspiracy by agreeing to fix prices of TFT-LCD panels during secret meetings, referred to as "Crystal Meetings," in hotel rooms in Taipei, Taiwan. The participants in the conspiracy also exchanged information on the sales of TFT-LCD panels for the purpose of monitoring and enforcing adherence to the agreed-upon prices. According to the court document, in order to keep the meetings secret and avoid detection, the participants took various steps to conceal the conspiracy.
As a result of this investigation, more than $890 million in criminal fines have been obtained to date. Including today’s indictment, 22 executives and eight companies have been charged in the department’s ongoing investigation into price fixing in the LCD industry.
Joe is charged with price fixing in violation of 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.
An indictment contains merely allegations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless proven guilty in a court of law.
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 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.