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Toshiba fined $87M for LCD price fixing; won't pay a penny

Toshiba said it won't have to pay its fine because of settlements paid already by other vendors

A jury in San Francisco on Tuesday decided to fine Toshiba US$87 million for colluding with other vendors to keep LCD prices artificially high, but the Tokyo-based company doesn't expect to have to pay anything.

U.S. antitrust law calls for the fine to be tripled, but even then Toshiba doesn't anticipate it will have to pay any money. Other defendants in the class-action suit have effectively covered its fine because they have already paid more in settlements than the damages finding against Toshiba, said a spokeswoman for the company.

"Given credits for settlements by other defendants, Toshiba expects that it will not have to pay any damages as a result of this verdict, even after trebling under U.S. antitrust laws," Toshiba said in a brief statement.

Despite the court's finding, Toshiba maintained it was innocent of all charges.

"Toshiba has consistently maintained that there was no illegal activity on its part in the LCD business in the United States, and Toshiba continues to hold that view," the statement said. "While Toshiba appreciates the jury's time and effort, Toshiba believes that the jury's verdict is in error as to the finding of wrongdoing on Toshiba's part. Toshiba plans to pursue all available legal avenues to correct that finding."

Other vendors have already agreed to pay hundreds of millions of dollars to settle related class-action suits filed by consumers, government entities and other public entities, including Chimei Innolux, Chunghwa Picture Tubes, Epson Imaging Devices, HannStar Display, Hitachi Displays, Samsung Electronics and Sharp.

The civil cases follow a 2007 U.S. Department of Justice criminal probe into price fixing in the LCD industry. Japan's Sharp, South Korea's LG Display and Taiwan's Chunghwa Picture Tubes all pled guilty in the criminal case and agreed to pay hundreds of millions of dollars in fines.

Taiwan's AU Optronics decided to fight the charges and a court ruled earlier this year that it and two senior executives were guilty. They now face a fine of up to $1 billion.

Toshiba was never indicted in the criminal case.

Martyn Williams covers mobile telecoms, Silicon Valley and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Follow Martyn on Twitter at @martyn_williams. Martyn's e-mail address is martyn_williams@idg.com


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