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Last Updated: Thursday, 13 October 2005, 21:28 GMT 22:28 UK
Samsung in price fixing admission
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Samsung is the third company to admit its guilt
South Korean electronics giant Samsung has agreed to plead guilty to involvement in price fixing in the US and to pay a $300m (170m) fine.

The fine is the second largest criminal anti-trust penalty in US history, and the largest for five years.

Samsung was accused of conspiring with other chipmakers to fix the price of chips sold for use in PCs and mobile phones between 1999 and 2002.

Samsung is the third firm to plead guilty to price fixing in the case.

Also on Thursday, Samsung said its third quarter profits fell 30% to 1.9 trillion won ($1.8bn; 1bn) as chip prices fell - although sales were up 1.4%.

Investigation

South Korean firm Hynix agreed to pay a $185m fine while German chipmaker Infineon reached a $160m settlement.

The US Justice Department said Samsung and its US subsidiary would enter a guilty plea at the US District Court in San Francisco on Thursday.

Price fixing threatens our free-market system
Alberto Gonzales, US Attorney General

In a statement, Samsung said the price-fixing charges against the company had now been "fully resolved".

"Samsung strongly supports fair competition and ethical practices and forbids anti-competitive behavior," it said.

Samsung will now co-operate in the ongoing criminal investigation, which was launched in 2002.

Several Samsung employees could potentially face individual criminal charges.

Four Infineon employees were jailed for six months each after pleading guilty to price-fixing.

'Protecting consumers'

"Price fixing threatens our free-market system, stifles innovation and robs American consumers of the benefit of competitive prices," US Attorney General Alberto Gonzales said in a statement.

"Today's guilty plea is evidence of the department's ongoing commitment to protect consumers from corporations that engage in illegal conduct."

The case revolved around the pricing of dynamic random access memory (DRAM) chips, the most common type of semiconductors.

Companies directly affected by the price fixing conspiracy included household names such as Dell, Compaq, Hewlett Packard, Apple Computer and IBM.




SEE ALSO:
Infineon execs to get jail terms
03 Dec 04 |  Business
Infineon fined for price fixing
15 Sep 04 |  Business


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