AUO to contest price-fixing guilty verdict

AU Optronics has vowed to challenge the Department of Justice’s verdict after the panel maker was found guilty of price fixing.

The Taiwanese LCD panel manufacturer had been accused of colluding with its competitors in the panel industry to fix prices.

While AUO still contests whether the content of high level meetings taking place in Taiwan should be subject to US laws, the DOJ has declared the firm to be in breach of competition rules. AUO could now be in line for substantial fines in the region of $1 billion.

Two senior employees, HB Chen and Hui Hsiung, were found guilty in the case, though two others, LJ Chen and Hubert Lee, were acquitted.

The firm declared in a response statement that it “intends to appeal the verdict and any fine” once a full decision is made by US courts over the coming months.

In the statement, AUO was keen to express its innocence, claiming that those present at meetings had little authority to actually effect pricing in real life.

A number of firms have been reprimanded over alleged price fixing between 2001 and 2006, with Samsung, LG and others in hot water with US authorities.

Authorities in the EU and Asia have also brought various industry players to task over the so called ‘crystal meetings’.

Such price fixing occurred before the panel industry saw prices dwindle to the extent that many firms are selling for little above material cost, according to analysts.  Many panel firms are currently operating at a loss.

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