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AU Optronics Fined $500M For LCD Price Fixing

San Francisco – Taiwanese LCD panel manufacturer AU Optronics, its former president and its executive VP were given on Thursday one of the harshest penalties ever levied in an anti-trust criminal case for their roles in global LCD price fixing.

The company received a $500 million fine while the two executives were sentenced to three years in jail, according to reports.

AU Optronics refused to plea bargain in the case and was the only company to go to trial. Eight leading LCD panel manufacturers were involved in the action.

While stiff, the penalties still fell well short of the $1 billion fine and 10-year sentences the U.S. Department of Justice had sought.

U.S. District Judge Susan Illston said AU Optronics had already paid millions in class-action lawsuit settlements with others pending in the United States and around the world.

Hsuan Bin Chen and Hui Hsiung were given lesser jail terms by the judge because they acted in what they believed were the best interests of an industry faced with declining profits and over production and not purely in the interests of personal gain, an AP report said.

AU Optronics was found guilty of collaborating with seven other companies between 2001 and 2006 to fix production volumes and set prices they would charge TV manufacturers for the key panel components.

The company was convicted in March.

According to the AP report, the judge also ordered the company to publish in three “trade journals” that it has been convicted of price fixing and what measures its taking to avoid breaking the law in the future.