Third Chi Mei exec jailed by US for LCD panel price fixing

The US Department of Justice has found Taiwanese resident and exec at Chi Mei Optoelectronics Wen-Hung Huang guilty of conspiring, globally, to fix prices of TFT-LCD panels. And he’s being thrown in the nick.

It’s said that Huang along with other mates in the LCD industry had been having sneaky chats with each other, including two others execs at Chi Mei, to try to suppress and eliminate competition by fixing prices. Huang is former sales director at Chi Mei and the DoJ reckons he had been actively engaged in the conspiracy from about the 14th September 2001 all the way up to roughly December 2006.

The scam, which the DoJ has so far charged 18 execs across eight companies for involvement with, has participants meeting and agreeing to charge prices of the TFT-LCD panels at predetermined pricepoints. They also apparently issued price quotations in accordance with the agreements they made and fed each other information on panel sales to make sure they could adhere to the agreements.  So far the DoJ has collected nearly $900 million in fines from the conspirators.

Chi Mei merged with Innolux and TPO Display earlier this year to form Chimei Innolux, now Taiwan’s largest manufacturer of LCD panels.

Huang is the third from Chi Mei to be sent down. He’s been charged with the Sherman Antitrust Act which had been put in place to prevent unlawful monopolies and anticompetitive behaviour. His plea has him agreeing to spend nine months in jail, to pay a $25,000 criminal fine and to help the Department of Justice in cracking down on others involved.

Two other Chi Mei top dogs were busted in April, when they pleaded guilty to price fixing. They were former president of the company Ho Jau-yang and another sales executive, Chu-hsiang Yang.