Taiwan's AU Optronics fined $500 mn by US court for LCD price fixing

Taiwan-based liquid crystal display (LCD) maker AU Optronics Co (AUO) was yesterday ordered to pay $500 million criminal fine by a US court for colluding with rivals to fix prices on the screens.

AUO, Taiwan's largest LCD panel maker today said that it would appeal against the ruling to fine it $500 million.

The $500 million fine equals the 1999 record penalty for price-fixing in the US, which was imposed on Swiss healthcare company F Hoffman-La Roche for leading a price-fixing cartel in vitamin supplements.

Based on charges filed by the US Department of Justice (DoJ) in 2009, US District Judge Susan Illston in San Francisco imposed a $500 million criminal fine on AUO for its role in conspiring with its rivals to manipulate prices of thin-film transistor LCD panels between 2001 and 2006.

Former AUO president Hsuan Bin Chen and executive vice president Hui Hsuing were also sentenced to serve three years in prison and to pay a $200,000 criminal fine.

AUO was the only LCD maker to take its case to trial, while its rivals including LG Display, Chunghwa Picture Tubes, Chi Mei Optoelectronics Corp and Sharp Corp had in 2008 pleaded guilty and paid more than $1.39 billion in fines.