Taiwan-based AU Optronics was sentenced today in U.S. District Court in San Francisco to pay a $500 million criminal fine for its participation in a five-year conspiracy to fix the prices of thin-film transistor LCD panels sold worldwide, the Department of Justice announced.
Its American subsidiary and two former top executives were also sentenced today. The two executives were sentenced to serve prison time and to pay criminal fines for their roles in the conspiracy. The $500 million fine matches the largest fine imposed against a company for violating the U.S. antitrust laws.
Today's sentencing took place before Judge Susan Illston. Along with the criminal fine, AU Optronics was also sentenced to print advertisements in three major trade publications in the United States and Taiwan acknowledging its convictions and punishments and the remedial steps it has taken as a result of its conviction. The company and its American subsidiary, AU Optronics Corporation America, were also placed on probation for five years, required to adopt an antitrust compliance program and to appoint an independent corporate compliance monitor.
Former AU Optronics president Hsuan Bin Chen was sentenced to serve three years in prison and to pay a $200,000 criminal fine. Former AU Optronics executive vice president Hui Hsiung was also sentenced to serve three years in prison and to pay a $200,000 criminal fine.
The companies and former executives were found guilty on March 13, 2012, following an eight-week trial. The indictment charged that AU Optronics participated in the worldwide price-fixing conspiracy from Sept. 14, 2001, to Dec. 1, 2006, and that its subsidiary joined the conspiracy as early as spring 2003. The jury found that the convicted companies and former executives fixed the prices of LCD panels sold into the United States.
Including today's sentences, eight companies have been convicted of charges arising out of the department's investigation and have been sentenced to pay criminal fines totaling $1.39 billion.
Today's charges are the result of a joint investigation by the Department of Justice Antitrust Division's San Francisco Field Office and the FBI in San Francisco.