3 LCD firms plead guilty in price-fixing scheme


WASHINGTON (AP) — Three Asian electronics firms have agreed to plead guilty and pay $585 million in fines for conspiring to drive up the prices of LCD screens used in computers, TVs, cell phones and other electronic devices.

In a plea deal filed Wednesday, LG Display Co. Ltd., Sharp Corp., and Chunghwa Picture Tubes Ltd. agreed to cooperate in an antitrust investigation headed by the U.S. Justice Department. The plea agreement was filed in federal court in San Francisco.

LCDs, or liquid crystal display monitors, are the glass display screens on many laptop computers, cell phones and new TVs.

Assistant Attorney General Thomas O. Barnett said the scheme cost not only consumers, but also Dell Inc., Motorola Inc. and Apple Computer Inc. He did not have a cost value for the losses, and said the investigation is continuing.

“These price-fixing conspiracies affected millions of American consumers who use computers, cell phones and numerous other household electronics every day,” Barnett told reporters at a Justice Department briefing. “By conspiring to drive up the price of LCD panels, consumers were forced to pay more for these products.”

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