EU ready to fine firms for DRAM price fixing

According to the New York Times, the EU is set to announce fines for price fixing memory makers just as soon as they can get the software on their PCs adjusted so that they can handle that many zeros.

Nine makers of memory chips, including Samsung Electronics, Infineon and Hynix Semiconductor, are in deep doo doo with the EU over illegally fixing prices.

Three people with direct knowledge of the matter said the fines would be the first case under the European Commission’s new settlement procedure introduced in July 2008.

This is where companies confess before an inquisition that they have taken part in a cartel in return for a 10 percent reduction in fines. Since the fines are usually huge this makes sense, but the system is a bit like the Spanish Inquisition in that you repent and still get burnt at the stake.

Other companies set to be fined are Elpida Memory, NEC Electronics, Hitachi, Toshiba, Mitsubishi Electric and Nanya Technology.

Micron Technology received immunity for blowing the whistle on the cartel and would not be fined for its involvement.

The fines will be announced tomorrow and might go some way to settling some of the problems that the EU has had dealing with the Greek debt crisis.

The total amount of the fines may reach €300 million ($381 million), and could have been higher without the settlement procedure.

The EU competition commissioner Joaquín Almunia was scheduled to hold a press conference on the matter Wednesday morning.