China fines Samsung, LG and four others in LCD price-fixing scheme

The six companies were ordered to pay US$56 million in fines

China has punished six companies, including Samsung and LG, for manipulating LCD panel prices in the country, and ordered them to pay a total of $56 million in fines.

Samsung, LG, and four Taiwanese companies "conspired" in a price fixing scheme facilitated through monthly meetings between 2001 to 2006, said China's National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) on Friday. During that period, the six companies held 53 meetings in Taiwan and South Korea to make agreements on LCD panel pricing.

Through the price-fixing scheme, the six companies sold 5.1 million panels in China, the most coming from LG, and Taiwanese LCD supplier Chimei Innolux. This amounted to 208 million yuan (US$33 million) in revenue. NDRC didn't state which LG or Samsung company was fined.

The six companies have been ordered to pay back the revenue to China's television manufacturing industry. All six companies are also being fined 144 million yuan as an additional penalty, according the NRDC.

China's NDRC investigated the matter after receiving complaints of the price fixing scheme since December 2006. The three other Taiwanese firms involved in the alleged price-fixing include AU Optronics, Chunghwa Picture Tubes, and HannStar Display.

Regulators across the world have also investigated the companies for manipulating LCD panel prices and fined them for breaking anti-competition laws. In Dec. 2010, the European Commission fined Samsung Electronics, LG Display and the four Taiwanese companies for a total of about $850 million, though Samsung received immunity from fines for bringing the cartel to the notice of the commission and providing information.

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