WASHINGTON South Korean chip maker Samsung Electronics will plead guilty to federal price-fixing charges and has agreed to pay a $300 million fine, the Justice Department announced Thursday (Oct. 13).
Samsung, the world's largest memory maker, agreed to the fine as the culmination of a three-year U.S. antitrust probe of price fixing in the U.S. DRAM industry.
The guilty plea by Samsung and its U.S. subsidiary, Samsung Semiconductor Inc., was expected to be entered Thursday in U.S. District Court in San Francisco.
In December, Samsung set aside $100 million to cover costs related to the price-fixing scheme that has rocked the chip industry.
Earlier this year, South Korea's Hynix agreed to pay a $185 million fine in connection with the U.S. antitrust probe. Last year, Germany's Infineon Technologies AG agreed to pay a $160 million fine.
According to the one-count felony charge, Samsung and its U.S. subsidiary conspired with other DRAM manufacturers to fix the prices of memory chips sold to U.S. computer and server makers. The Justice Department said companies directly affected by the price-fixing conspiracy were: Dell Inc., Compaq Computer Corp., Hewlett-Packard Co., Apple Computer Inc., IBM Corp. and Gateway Inc.
Under a plea agreement, Samsung has also agreed to cooperate with U.S. antitrust investigators in its ongoing investigation of other DRAM producers.
In a statement, Samsung spokesman Chris Goodhart said: "Achieving the final resolution of this matter has been paramount to Samsung. The settlement will in no way affect Samsung’s day-to-day operations or its ability to meet existing or future obligations.
A Micron Technology Inc. executive in New York state was charged last year in connection with the federal DRAM probe. Micron accepted the executive's resignation, and has said it is cooperating in the probe.
The Justice Department said Samsung's penalty was the second largest criminal antitrust fine in U.S. history.