Execs to serve jail time for LCD price-fixing

Former Chi Mei executives have pleaded guilty to their part in a price-fixing operation

The former president of Chi Mei Optoelectronics has agreed to pay a fine and go to jail for his role in a scheme to fix prices for TFT-LCDs (thin-film transistor-liquid crystal displays), the U.S. Department of Justice said Friday.

The Taiwanese company pleaded guilty to the crime late last year and agreed to pay a US$220 million fine.

Former President Jau-Yang Ho pleaded guilty to participating in the conspiracy from September 2001 through November 2006, the DOJ said. He agreed to pay a $50,000 fine and serve 14 months in jail. He also said he'll help the DOJ in its ongoing investigation into the conspiracy.

Ho's colleague, Chu-Hsiang Yang, formerly a director of sales at Chi Mei, also pleaded guilty to participating in the scheme, from April 2004 through November 2006. He was sentenced to pay a $25,000 fine and spend nine months in jail.

The agency said the men, both residents of Taiwan, met with other TFT-LCD makers and agreed to sell the panels at certain prices.

So far, six companies including Chi Mei have pleaded guilty for their involvement in the plan, the DOJ said. They've been ordered to pay fines totaling $860 million. Also, 11 people have been charged.

Other companies that have pleaded guilty include Epson Imaging Devices, which sold TFT-LCD panels at fixed prices to Motorola for use in its Razr phones. Sharp has also pleaded guilty for fixing prices on panels sold to Dell, Apple and Motorola.

Chi Mei's Ho and Yang could have been sentenced to a maximum of 10 years in prison and ordered to pay millions of dollars.

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Nancy Gohring

IDG News Service
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