Has Samsung Dobbed In The LCD TV Industry?

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Major suppliers of LCD TV’s are sweating on the outcome of a 12 month probe by a team of antitrust prosecutors from the US Justice Department with several expected to be charged with antitrust behaviour.Several claim that Samsung has rolled over and beme a key witness for the Justice Department.

Currently mystery surrounds the role that Samsung has played in the investigation with insiders claiming that the Company has rolled over and dobbed in several competitors in exchange for immunity from prosecution.


 According to US legal web site Law.com, when the Justice Department dropped its price-fixing hammer on the computer memory market three years ago, Samsung Electronics was the hardest hit with several executives jailed. Now the Company is cutting deals say defence lawyers.


For more than a year, antitrust prosecutors based in San Francisco have been probing suppliers of LCD flat panels and cathode ray tubes.


According to several defence lawyers acting for LCD manufacturers the US government has bestowed amnesty on Samsung in exchange for information that will stand up in court.


In the US and under their criminal antitrust law, the first company to step up and admit a conspiracy receives a pass from prosecution. Depending on their speed of cooperation, the other companies get progressively worse deals, with more of their executives exposed to individual prosecution.

 

Companies must deal with plaintiff firms at the same time as the Justice Department, and white-collar lawyers say it is common for civil depositions to be put on hold until the government wraps up its criminal probe. But DOJ prosecutor Niall Lynch took a more aggressive stance in the LCD cases last year, convincing Judge Susan Illston to shut down document discovery as well. If defendants got a look at what their cohorts gave to the grand jury, they could be able to figure out who was cooperating — and be able to coach witnesses, the government argued in court filings.


Lawyers acting for several vendors fought the stay, and lost. Now the government is asking Judge Samuel Conti to do the same thing again.


“Production of documents produced to the grand jury would reveal the nature, scope and direction of the ongoing criminal investigation,” Illston wrote, “as well as the identities of others who may be providing evidence to the grand jury or the government, and the identities of potential witnesses and targets.”


Amnesty for Samsung in LCD would represent a turnaround in its antitrust fortunes. In 2005, the company paid a $300 million fine for fixing prices on its dynamic random access memory, or DRAM, chips, a penalty which, at the time, was the second largest in antitrust history. Six Samsung executives pleaded guilty to criminal counts.

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