March 31, 2009

Hitachi exec accused of price-fixing

A Hitachi Displays Ltd. executive was indicted Tuesday on U.S. charges he took part in a global conspiracy to fix prices for computer screen components.

A grand jury in San Francisco charged Sakae Someya with scheming with unnamed co-conspirators to artificially inflate prices of Thin Film Transistor-Liquid Crystal Display panels Hitachi sold to Dell Inc.

Someya, described as a high-level Hitachi executive, faces up to 10 years in prison and a $1 million fine if convicted.

The U.S. Justice Department said in a news release that the conspiracy to suppress and eliminate competition by fixing the price of the TFT-LCD panels sold to Dell for use in notebook computers lasted from January 2001 to the end of 2004. In 2006 alone, the worldwide market for TFT-LCD panels was about $70 billion.

Including the latest indictment, federal prosecutors have brought charges against four companies and eight individuals in their ongoing antitrust investigation into the TFT-LCD industry. More than $585 million in fines have been imposed.