Friday, April 22, 2005
Hynix Semiconductor Inc., a South Korean manufacturer of dynamic random access memory (DRAM), agreed to plead guilty to a single count of conspiring to violate the Sherman Act by fixing prices with other manufacturers. The plea agreement requires the company to pay a $185 million fine, which is the third largest criminal antitrust fine ever; and the company agreed to cooperate in the government's continuing investigation. This is the second company to have entered a guilty plea as part of the price-fixing conspiracy, with Infineon Technologies AG also pleading guilty in Oct. 2004 and agreeing to pay a $165 million fine; four Infineon executives also entered guilty pleas. According to the Department of Justice press release (here) engaged in the conspiracy by:
Participating in meetings, conversations, and communications in the United States and elsewhere to discuss the prices of DRAM to be sold to certain customers; Agreeing, during those meetings, conversations, and communications, to charge prices of DRAM at certain levels to be sold to certain customers; Issuing price quotations in accordance with the agreements reached; and Exchanging information on sales of DRAM to certain customers, for the purpose of monitoring and enforcing adherence to the agreed-upon prices.
Hynix and Infineon were the third and fourth largest DRAM manufacturers in the world in 2004, with Samsung and Micron the top two companies (see article in EETimes here about DRAM manufacturing rankings). JURIST has coverage on the plea agreement and investigation here. (ph)