Samsung, who in the past have seen executives jailed for corruption and been fined millions for price fixing themselves, appear to have turned over a new leaf after dobbing in competitors LG Display and Chi Mei Optoelectronics to European authorities for price fixing.This week both companies were fined $860 million by the European Union after Samsung, who themselves had been price fixing LED panels, went to the EU claiming price fixing of liquid-crystal display panels by their competitors.
“Foreign companies, like European ones, have an obligation to respect competition rules when they do business in Europe,” EU Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia told reporters in Brussels today. South Korea’s Samsung Electronics, the world’s largest LCD maker, wasn’t fined because it informed on the cartel and provided “valuable information,” Almunia said.
The EU identified that over $7 Billion dollars worth of price fixed goods had been sold prior to Samsung having a change of heart over the issue.
Chi Mei, which merged with Innolux Display in March to form Chimei Innolux received the largest penalty of 300 million euros. LG Display of South Korea, the second-biggest panel maker, was fined 215 million euros. Taiwan’s AU Optronics must pay a financial penalty of 116.8 million euros. Chunghwa Picture Tubes was fined 9 million euros and HannStar Display, also based in Taiwan, was fined 8.1 million euros.
Bloomberg said that the six manufacturers in the cartel met around 60 times, usually every month in hotels in Taiwan to agree prices, including price ranges and minimum prices and to swap information on future production plans and capacity, the commission said.
“The fact that the cartel meetings took place outside the EU is no excuse,” Almunia told reporters. “All of the discussions were clearly illegal under our EU competition rules. The evidence shows that the participants were aware of the illegality of their conduct.”