Jury Finds AU Optronics, Two Executives Guilty in Price Fixing Scheme

By Shawn Hebert March 15, 2012

The world's fourth largest maker of liquid crystal display panels, along with its senior vice president and vice chairman, have been found guilty by a federal jury of colluding with rival firms to fix the prices on their consumer electronic products.

AU Optronics Corp, a merger between Acer Display and Unipac Optoelectronics Corp, is Taiwan's second largest manufacturer of computer and television display panels. The verdict leaves the corporation susceptible to fines as much as $1 billion.

According to reports, AUO met discretely with colleagues from rival companies in hotel rooms and bars between 2001 to 2008 with the intention to set prices at a time where a flood within the marketplace was driving down the cost of LCD panels.

LG Display Co., Chi Mei Optoelectronics Corp. and Sharp Corp. all plead guilty and will pay nearly $900 million in fines. In a statement released yesterday, the Justice Department said that 17 executives from those companies have been charged while 10 have plead guilty and been sentence to prison.

AUO will appeal the verdict and in a statement said that the evidence presented by prosecutors was “distorted and incomplete.”

The focus of the appeal will be the fact that no precedent has ever been set by a U.S. Court on whether the act of price fixing can be used against companies and people for actions on foreign soil.

“This case is just the beginning,” said AUO attorney Dennis Riordan. “The most important question it raises, which the jury didn't get, is does the Sherman Act apply to conduct that takes place outside of the U.S.?”

AUO has begun to make arrangements to pay conviction fines and legal fees should the appeal fall through.

Edited by Jennifer Russell

TechZone360 Contributing Writer

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