April 27, 2009

S. Korean exec guilty of LCD price fixing

A senior LG Display Co. executive from South Korea has agreed to plead guilty in a global conspiracy to fix prices for LCD panels, U.S. authorities said Monday.

As part of his agreement to plead to one felony count in U.S. District court in San Francisco, Bock Kwon will serve a year in jail in the United States.

Federal prosecutors said Kwon, who at one time was president of LG's Taiwan subsidiary, conspired with employees from other makers of thin film transistor-liquid crystal display panels to suppress and eliminate competition by fixing prices from September 2001 to June 2006.

The Justice Department said that so far four companies have agreed to plead guilty and pay more than $616 million in fines. Nine executives also have been charged.

The participants in the LCD conspiracy committed a serious fraud upon American consumers by fixing the prices of a product that is in almost every American home, said Christine A. Varney, assistant attorney general in charge of the department's Antitrust Division.

TFT-LCD panels are used in computer monitors and notebooks, televisions, mobile phones and other electronic devices. In 2006, the worldwide market for the high-tech panels was about $70 billion.