July 4, 2012
Toshiba Fined $87 Million In Price Fixing Scheme, Might Not Pay
Michael Harper for redOrbit.com — Your Universe Online
Japan electronics company Toshiba has just been ordered to pay $87 million in damages, thanks to a northern California judge and an alleged price-fixing scheme.
Customers banded together to bring the class action suit against Toshiba, claiming the company had conspired to fixes prices of the liquid crystal display market. While not the only company accused in the class action, the other defendants opted to settle the case early. Toshiba, on the other hand, decided to fight the suit all the way to trial in a San Francisco court.
A Reuters report claims Toshiba must hand over $70 million to those angry customers who had already purchased their televisions as well as an additional $17 million to the manufacturers who had used the LCD panels in their products. Despite the court´s decision, Toshiba may not pay these damages, as the other companies who had settled have already paid more than what the courts are asking Toshiba to pay.
According to a company statement, the US District Court jury in San Francisco had ordered the fines "due to alleged antitrust practices in the LCD business."
The statement continues, “Given credits for settlements by other defendants, Toshiba expects that it will not have to pay any damages as a result of this verdict, even after trebling under US antitrust laws."
Toshiba isn´t going to take these accusations lying down, either. Saying they haven´t acted illegally, Toshiba has proclaimed they plan to pursue “all available legal avenues" to find a different verdict.
"While Toshiba appreciates the jury's time and effort, Toshiba believes that the jury's verdict is in error as to the finding of wrongdoing," the company said.
The class action lawsuit originates all the way back to 2007 by purchasers of the LCD panels in question, and are related to products in the United States.
Taiwanese LCD panel maker AU Optronics was convicted of similar criminal charges in March. The US prosecutors had accused AUO execs of meeting more than 60 times with their competitors at expensive and luxurious hotels, karaoke bars and tea rooms to fix the prices of their LCD panels. According to the US prosecutors, these companies had cost the American economy billions of dollars in extra revenue.
Reiterating their point, the company statement continued, "Toshiba has consistently maintained that there was no illegal activity on its part in the LCD business in the United States, and Toshiba continues to hold that view.”
Late last year, 7 other LCD manufacturers–Samsung, Sharp and others–agreed to pay $553 million out of court to settle the complaints that these companies had conspired to fix the prices of their LCD panels. Toshiba, as well as 3 other companies, did not take part in this settlement.
"We are very pleased the jury found in favor of the plaintiffs and found that Toshiba violated the law, particularly in light of the government's decision not to criminally prosecute Toshiba for its misconduct," said Richard Heimann, co-lead counsel for the plaintiffs.