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LCD maker hit with $500 million antitrust fine

taiwan au optronics price-fixing

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Posted 21 September 2012 - 01:23

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- A Taiwanese LCD screen maker was hit Thursday with a $500 million fine for price-fixing, a penalty that tied for the largest ever in an American antitrust case.

A federal judge in San Francisco levied the fine against Taiwan's AU Optronics Corporation for its participation in a conspiracy with other companies to fix LCD prices. In addition, two former AU Optronics executives -- ex-president Hsuan Bin Chen and former executive vice president Hui Hsiung -- received three-year prison terms.

"This long-running price-fixing conspiracy resulted in every family, school, business, charity and government agency who bought notebook computers, computer monitors and LCD televisions during the conspiracy [paying] more for these products," the Justice Department's Scott Hammond said in a statement.

AU Optronics said it "regrets" the judgment and plans to lodge an appeal.

The ruling is the latest development in a long-running legal battle focusing on the years between 1999 and 2006, during which a group of Asian manufacturers and their U.S. affiliates conspired to artificially inflate LCD prices, prosecutors say.