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New York attorney general says LCD suppliers fixed prices

Several major companies sold liquid crystal display screens for TVs and other electronics at fixed prices, New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo said. His suit said some of them have paid $890 million to settle similar federal charges.

WILL VRAGOVIC | Times (2009)

Several major companies sold liquid crystal display screens for TVs and other electronics at fixed prices, New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo said. His suit said some of them have paid $890 million to settle similar federal charges.

ALBANY, N.Y. — New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo on Friday sued several major suppliers of liquid crystal display screens used in computers, televisions and cell phones, claiming buyers paid extra because of a decade of price-fixing.

Some of the companies have settled similar federal charges.

The suit filed in state court in Manhattan seeks damages and restitution to state and local governments along with penalties for actions from 1996 to 2006 by companies in Japan, Korea and Taiwan.

Defendants are Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd., Sharp Corp., Toshiba Corp., Hitachi Displays Ltd., LG Display Co. Ltd., AU Optronics Corp., Chi Mei Corp., CMO Japan Co. Ltd., and U.S. affiliates.

They are accused of selling display screens at illegally fixed prices to companies including Dell and IBM — vendors that sold computers to public entities in New York, including the state government, counties, municipalities, colleges, hospitals, transit agencies and fire departments.

Cuomo claims the cartel dominated the $70 billion market, and top officials from the companies met regularly.

"As a result, hard-pressed New York cities, towns, schools and hospitals spent hundreds of millions of dollars on LCD screens affected by the illegal conspiracy. My office is bringing this case to get those illegal overcharges back," he said.

Damages are in the tens of millions of dollars, Cuomo spokesman Matt Glazer said.

Many cartel members and executives have pleaded guilty to federal criminal antitrust violations and paid more than $890 million in fines, according to the suit.

"The state purchasers on whose behalf this action is brought — and the taxpayers whose dollars financed those purchases — have suffered substantial damages stemming from defendants' unlawful conspiracy," the suit claimed.

Under state antitrust laws, the Attorney General's Office requested treble damages, civil penalties, costs and "other equitable relief for the harm inflicted."

Samsung declined to make any immediate comment. Calls and e-mails to the other companies were not immediately returned Friday.

New York attorney general says LCD suppliers fixed prices 08/06/10 [Last modified: Friday, August 6, 2010 9:16pm]
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