Today, three Samsung executives pleaded guilty to conspiring to fix DRAM prices, and will serve jail time in the US. They each face eight months in jail and a fine of $250K. Sun Woo Lee, Young Woo Lee, and Yeongho Kang all agreed to cooperate in the continuing investigation, thereby avoiding extradition. So far, 12 individuals from four companies have been charged in the probe. Others pleading guilty to price fixing include South Korea's Hynix Semiconductor, Germany's Infineon, and Japanese manufacturer Elpida Memory. To date, $731 million in fines have been assessed in the DRAM conspiracy.
On the heels of this announcement, a list of Israeli technology companies facing allegations that they timed or backdated managers' stock option awards to coincide with low share prices has ballooned. On the hot seat--Comverse Technologies, Zoran Corp. and DSP Group have joined Mercury Interactive Corp., whose CEO, CFO and general counsel have already resigned over the matter.
I still don't get it. Is it shareholder impatience, competitive pressures, or downright greed that is the motivation for this kind of action? I would have thought that in the long shadow of Enron, companies would have worked hard on moving those skeletons out of their closets. Guess not.