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October 13, 2005 - U.S.-based Samsung Semiconductor Inc. and its parent company, South Korean Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd., today plead guilty in the U.S. District Court in San Franciso to a single count of fixing prices on memory chips between April 1999 and June 2002. Samsung has agreed to pay a 300 million dollar fine.
Samsung’s top competitor Hynix agreed earlier this year to pay a $185 million fine for the same offence, and German competitor Infineon Technologies AG agreed to pay $160 million for the same offence last September. All three companies have been accused of conspiring together to fix prices on memory chips, affecting companies who purchase their components and use them in their electronics.
The U.S. government has declared the victims to be Gateway, Apple, IBM, Compaq, Dell, and Hewlett-Packard, although such chips can be used in many other electronic devices other than computers, including digital and video recorders. It was not made clear whether Samsung’s price-fixing has affected prices of digital cameras in the past, or by how much.
Samsung’s fine marks the end of a three-year-long investigation, and it is the second-largest criminal antitrust fine ever.