Television executives illegally conspired on over 60 occasions at luxury apartments, costing the US economy billions of dollars by fixing the price of LCD panels and stunting competition said a US prosecutor yesterday in court.
The rare criminal trial which was initiated by the government was against a publically traded company called AU Optronics Corp, according to reports from Reuters.
“Instead of competing, these executives and these corporations were conspiring,” said US Department of Justice Attorney Peter Houston in San Francisco’s Federal court.
AU Optronics attorney Christopher Nedeau claimed the exchange of information, which is not illegal, was conducive to fierce competition.
This is despite LG electronics pleading guilty in the LCD probe and Samsung, one of the largest TV brands in the world, avoiding prosecution by cutting an early deal.
Instead AU Optronics and five of its past and present executives are pleading not guilty to the charges. The executives, which include former CEO Lai-Juh Chen, will face gaol time and fines amounting to hundreds of millions if proven guilty.
AU Optronics has a market capitalisation of roughly US$3.8 billion.
Documents were kept of the secret meetings that detail AU Optronics attended almost all of them. Huston is also alleging the executives tried to manage global supply by negotiating production targets.
“Ladies and gentlemen, the documents don’t lie,” Huston said.
Profit for the company was 300 per cent higher when the meetings were taking place.
“Every deal has its price,” Nedeau said. “These deals were conditioned on giving testimony favourable to the government’s version of the case.”
The Department of Justice claims the LCD probe has net US$890 million in fines so far.