$300 Million Fine in Computer Chip Conspiracy
Samsung Electronics has agreed to plead guilty and pay a $300 million fine, the second largest criminal antitrust fine in U.S. history, for participating in a price-fixing conspiracy in the dynamic access random memory (DRAM) industry. According to the felony charge, the conspiracy directly affected a number of computer manufacturers, including Dell, Hewlett-Packard, Apple, and IBM.
Samsung is charged with carrying out the conspiracy by:
Participating in meetings, conversations, and communications with competitors to discuss the prices of DRAM to be sold to certain customers;
Agreeing, during those meetings, conversations, and communications, to charge prices of DRAM at certain levels to be sold to certain customers;
Issuing price quotations in accordance with the agreements reached; and
Exchanging information on sales of DRAM to certain customers in order to monitor and enforce adherence to the agreed-upon prices.
Hynix Semiconductor and Infineon Technologies have previously pleaded guilty to price-fixing charges, paying fines of $185 million and $160 million respectively. In addition, four individuals have pleaded guilty to taking part in the conspiracy, and served prison terms ranging from four to six months in addition to a $250,000 fine. One individual was charged with obstruction of justice for withholding and altering documents responsive to a grand jury subpoena and was sentenced to six months of home detention. Samsung has agreed to cooperate with the government in its ongoing investigation.
For more information regarding this Antitrust Update, please contact Toby G. Singer, leader of the Health Care Antitrust Practice.