Retrial of LCD Exec Ends in Antitrust Conviction

     SAN FRANCISCO (CN) – An executive for the largest producer of liquid crystal display (LCD) panels in Taiwan conspired to fix product prices, a federal jury found.
     The jury said Shiu Lung Leung participated in a worldwide price-fixing conspiracy related to thin-film transistor-liquid crystal display, or TFT-LCD, panels from May 15, 2002, to Dec. 1, 2006.
     He had been a senior manager in the Desktop Display Business Group of AU Optronics Corp.
     Leung’s employer, the Hsinchu, Taiwan-based AU Optronics, was found guilty of related charges in March along with the company’s Houston-based subsidiary, AU Optronics Corp. America.
     That eight-week trial also resulted in the convictions of former AU Optronics Corp. president Hsuan Bin Chen and former AU Optronics Corp. executive vice president Hui Hsiung.
     Though Leung had been on trial with his former colleagues, the case against him ended in a mistrial.
     He was convicted Tuesday, in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, after a three-week retrial.
     Prosecutors say the conspirators fixed the prices of LCD panels during monthly meetings with their competitors, which were secretly held in hotel conference rooms, karaoke bars and tea rooms around Taiwan.
     LCD panels are used in computer monitors and notebooks, televisions and other electronic devices. By the end of the conspiracy, the worldwide market for LCD panels was valued at $70 billion annually. The LCD price-fixing conspiracy affected some of the largest computer manufacturers in the world, including Hewlett Packard, Dell and Apple, according to the Justice Department.
     In September, U.S. District Judge Susan Illston sentenced the companies to pay a $500 million criminal fine. Chen and Hsiung were each sentenced to serve three years in prison and to each pay a $200,000 criminal fine.
     The Justice Department says eight companies have pleaded guilty or been convicted to date, generating more than $1.39 billion in criminal fines.
     Of the 22 charged executives, 13 have pleaded guilty or have been convicted and seven remain fugitives, it added.

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