Chimei and AUO keep quiet over NY antitrust

Chimei Innolux (CMI) and AU Optronics (AUO) are both keeping quiet over the antitrust lawsuit which has been filed against them by the State of New York.

The pair are accused of being part of a syndicate involved in fixing prices for LCD panels. Last the third of three Chimei execs got chucked in jail over the scandal 

However, Chimei is still refusing to comment on the latest allegations, stating that it has not yet been served with a complaint filed by the state of New York for violation of antitrust laws. It therefore said it was not in a position to comment on whether the lawsuit will have a material impact its finances, according to a filing with the Taiwan Stock Exchange (TSE), which was obtained by Digitimes.

And AUO is following its partner in (alleged) crime also claiming that it has not been served with any formal legal documents. As a result it too said it would be unable to comment.

Both companies were served with an antitrust action by New York attorney general Andrew Cuomo on August 6 in a bid to recover damages suffered from 1996 to 2006 by the New York State and other public purchasers. These, the papers said, included local governments, schools, hospitals, and colleges, among others – that purchased computers and other goods containing the price-fixed screens.

But AUO and CMI aren’t the only ones in the firing line with the action extending to giants like Hitachi Displays, Hitachi, Hitachi Electronic Devices (USA), LG Display, LG Display America, Samsung Electronics, Samsung Electronics America, Samsung Semiconductor, Sharp, Sharp Electronics, Toshiba, Toshiba Matsushita Display Technology, Toshiba America Information Systems, and Toshiba America Electronic Components.

The lawsuit, filed in State Supreme Court in New York County, alleges that all these companies sneakily planned to fix LCD screen prices during secret meetings, which diddled the US market out of around $70 billion for approximately a decade. It said New York State purchasers paid artificially higher prices for products containing LCD panels as a result of the conspiracy.

“Our investigation shows that an illegal cartel eliminated competition in the marketplace for LCD screens, made its own secret decisions to boost prices, and then took steps to make those high prices stick,” said Cuomo.

“As a result, hard-pressed New York cities, towns, schools, and hospitals spent hundreds of millions of dollars on LCD screens affected by the illegal conspiracy. My office is bringing this case to get those illegal overcharges back.”