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U.S. Court Hits Samsung With $300 Million Antitrust Fine

U.S. Court Hits Samsung With $300 Million Antitrust Fine

Posted October. 15, 2005 07:52,   


The U.S. Justice Department announced on October 13 that Samsung Electronics pleaded guilty to price-fixing memory in the U.S. and agreed to pay $300 million (approximately 300 billion won) in fines.

The $300 million in fines is the second-largest antitrust fine to be levied in U.S. history, following the 500 million paid by Swiss drug giant Roche Holding AG for vitamin price-fixing charges in 1999.

U.S. units of Samsung Electronics and Samsung Semiconductor had been investigated by the U.S. Justice Department for the last three years on charges of DRAM price-fixing via phone calls, e-mail exchanges, and meetings with its competitors such as Hynix Semiconductor Inc. and German Infineon Technologies from April 1999 to June 2002.

Acting Assistant Attorney General of the Antitrust Division, Thomas O. Barnett, said in the press conference that day that the decision to levy the $300 million fine on Samsung Electronics will be finalized following the approval of the San Francisco federal court but that criminal charges of the seven Samsung employees involved in the case remain.

“We view personal prosecution as an essential part of the efforts for punishment and prevention (of antitrust acts) and hope to prosecute those responsible and see them serve prison terms,” he added.

He also said that the Korean electronics giant decided to cooperate with the ongoing investigation into cases involving other DRAM companies.

Hynix Semiconductor, which conspired to fix prices with Samsung Electronics, agreed to pay penalties of $185 million early this year. The case involving Infineon concluded with the firm paying $160 million in fines September last year.

Soon-Taek Kwon maypole@donga.com