JAPANESE FIRM AGREES
TO PAY $84 MILLION FINE
By Julia Cheever, Bay City News Service
January 30, 2006
SAN FRANCISCO (BCN) - The U.S. Justice Department announced today
that a Japanese computer chip company has agreed to plead guilty
in federal court in San Francisco and pay an $84 million fine
in an international price-fixing case.
Elpida Memory Inc. is the fourth company to plead guilty in federal
court in San Francisco in the past two years to charges of conspiring
with other companies to fix the prices of memory chips known as
dynamic random access memory, or DRAM.
The other companies were Samsung Electronics of South Korea,
which agreed last year to pay a $300 million fine; Hynix Semiconductor
Inc. of South Korea, which agreed last year to pay a $185 million
fine; and Infineon Technologies of Munich, Germany, which agreed
in 2004 to pay a fine of $160 million.
Thomas Barnett, acting assistant attorney general in charge of
the department's antitrust divisions, said, "We are gratified
to bring to justice another member of the DRAM cartel."
Barnet said DRAM is the most commonly used semiconductor memory
product. The chips are used in many electronic devices including
computers, printers, servers, hard disk drives, televisions, mobile
phones and digital cameras.
The plea agreement must be approved by a federal trial judge.
The settlement would resolve two criminal counts filed against
Elpida by the Justice Department in U.S. District Court in San
The two-count information filed by federal prosecutors accuses
Elpida of one count of conspiring with other manufacturers to
fix DRAM prices between 1999 and 2002 and one count of conspiring
in 2002 to rig a bid for the purchases of memory modules manufactured
by Sun Microsystems Inc.
The criminal charges allege that U.S. computer companies victimized
by the price fixing included Dell Inc., Compaq Computer Corp.,
Hewlett-Packard Co. Apple Computer Inc. and International Business
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