JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (CN) – The Missouri attorney general claims the world’s leading manufacturers of flat screen LCD panels conspired to fix prices. Chris Koster said Missouri joined a lawsuit with four other states’ attorneys general after a 2-year investigation, and that several defendants have pleaded guilty to federal antitrust charges, which brought more than $890 million in criminal fines.
The high-level conspiracy involved secret meetings in which the companies’ executives agreed to raise the prices for the LCD screens, Koster said in a statement. He seeks restitution for Missourians who bought products containing LCD panels between 1999 and 2006.
“These companies conspired with the intent to prevent competition in order to keep prices high and increase their profits in this mega-billion dollar market,” Koster said. “These inflated prices were passed on to Missouri citizens, businesses, and taxpayer-funded institutions when they bought products such as computer monitors, flat screen televisions, and notebook monitors. This conduct was both illegal and fraudulent under Missouri law.”
A slew of private class actions have been filed against the same defendants.
The defendants are AU Optronics Corp., AU Optronics Corp. America, Chi Mei Innolux Corp., Chi Mei Optoelectronics USA, International Display Technology USA, Chi Mei Optoelectronics Japan Co., HannStar Display Corp., Hitachi, Hitachi Displays, Hitachi Electronic Devices USA, LG Phillips LCD Co., LG Phillips LCD America, Samsung Electronics Co., Samsung Electronics America, Samsung Semiconductor, Sharp Corp., and Sharp Electronics Corp.