DRAM price fixers hatch a deal in Connecticut

Connecticut Attorney General George Jepsen announced that he had reached a $175,000 settlement with four manufacturers of DRAM.

The state claimed Elpida, Hynix, Infineon, and Micron conspired with one another to illegally fix and artificially inflate prices in violation of the Connecticut Antitrust Act.

None of the companies have admitted liability, but agreed to pay the State $43,750 each by March 31, 2012 to sort the matter out.

While the amount of cash is small, it is only one of many actions that the four are facing at the moment.

Micron, Hynix, Infineon and Samsung controlled approximately 70 percent of DRAM sales in the United States between 1998 and 2002, when the conspiracy to fix prices is alleged.

The Attorney General alleged that overcharges paid by manufacturers for DRAM were passed on to people directly in the form of higher prices for computers, printers, networking equipment and other electronic devices.

The DRAM manufacturers were charged with co-ordinating prices they charged to contract and other customers and with reducing supply in order to artificially raise prices.

In 2002 the DoJ launched a criminal investigation and Samsung, Hynix, Infineon and Elpida, and 12 individuals have pleaded guilty to criminal price fixing. They have been fined more than $730 million. Micron also admitted its role in the conspiracy  but was let off because it was the whistleblower on the whole thing.

Connecticut has settled a similar civil complaint against Samsung and Winbond in 2007 as part of a larger multistate group of Attorneys General and is still awaiting distribution of its share of the states’ $10 million settlement.