SAN FRANCISCO South Korea's Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. has agreed to pay $90 million to settle litigation brought by 41 U.S. states pertaining to Samsung's alleged participation in a global DRAM price-fixing conspiracy, according to a statement issued Tuesday (Feb. 6) by New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo.
In addition to paying out $90 million, Samsung (Seoul, South Korea) also agreed to assist the states in litigating against other computer chip manufacturers that participated in the alleged price-fixing conspiracy, according to the statement issued by Cuomo's office.
The $90 million settlement will be used to benefit victims that paid artificially high prices for personal computers and other hi-tech equipment that contained the chips, the statement said. Of the settlement amount, $10 million is reserved for states and localities to recover their losses, while $80 million will be used to benefit consumers and other victims, the statement said.
Last July, 34 U.S. states banded together to sue Samsung and other DRAM makers in federal court here based on alleged participation in a global DRAM price fixing conspiracy in the early part of this decade.
Since 2002, the U.S. Justice Department has been conducting a probe of alleged DRAM price fixing in the late 1990s and early part of this decade. In total, four companies and 18 individuals have been charged in the investigation and criminal fines totaling more than $730 million have resulted, according to the Justice Department. This total reflects the second-largest total amount of fines ever imposed in a U.S. criminal antitrust investigation from a single price-fixing conspiracy, according to the Justice Department.
Elpida Memory Inc., Infineon Technologies AG, Hynix Semiconductor Inc., and Micron Technology Inc. remain defendants in the suit brought by U.S. states, according to Cuomo's statement. Elpida, Infineon and Hynix have all pleaded guilty to participation in the price-fixing conspiracy as a result of the Justice Department. Micron is believed to have acknowledged its participation in the conspiracy but avoided federal criminal charges under the Justice Department's corporate leniency program, applicable to price-fixing violations, according to the statement released Tuesday by Cuomo's office.
Samsung pleaded guilty in October 2005 to federal price-fixing charges, agreeing to pay a $300 million fine. Hynix pleaded guilty in April 2005 and agreed to a $185 million fine.
Infineon agreed in September 2004 to pay a $160 million fine.
In January 2006, Elpida agreed to plead guilty and pay an $84 million fine.