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Hitachi Fined $31 Million For LCD Price Fixing 135

Posted by samzenpus
from the pay-up dept.
MojoKid writes "The Japanese electronics manufacturer has just agreed to pay a staggering $31 million fine for its role in a conspiracy to fix prices in the sale of TFT-LCD panels sold to Dell, Inc. The United States Department of Justice made the proclamation, and details show that Hitachi has plead guilty to a one-count felony. The charge, which was filed in the U.S. District Court in San Francisco, blames Hitachi Displays Ltd., a subsidiary of Hitachi Ltd., with 'participating in a conspiracy to fix the prices of TFT-LCD sold to Dell for use in desktop monitors and notebook computers from April 1, 2001 through March 31, 2004.'"
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Hitachi Fined $31 Million For LCD Price Fixing

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  • How Much? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Rik Rohl (1399705) on Wednesday March 11, 2009 @09:15PM (#27160569)
    did they make more than $31 mil profit by fixing the prices? If they did then they got away with it.
  • by cc_pirate (82470) on Wednesday March 11, 2009 @09:17PM (#27160591)

    Once again a corporation is allowed to steal and not pay back what it stole...

    While an individual would have to pay every DIME back and then pay a penalty on TOP of that...

    Pathetic

  • Agreed (Score:4, Insightful)

    by LingNoi (1066278) on Wednesday March 11, 2009 @09:19PM (#27160615)

    The Japanese electronics manufacturer has just agreed to pay....

    How come when companies break the law they get to "agree" on the punishment?

  • by bluefoxlucid (723572) on Wednesday March 11, 2009 @09:19PM (#27160617) Journal
    You know how much they made? Do you know the point of price fixing?
  • Re:How Much? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by justsomecomputerguy (545196) on Wednesday March 11, 2009 @09:29PM (#27160689) Homepage
    Exactly! It's not like this is going to hurt their reputation in any significant way, so the fines HAVE to be higher than the illicit profits for them to have any real teeth.
  • Staggering (Score:1, Insightful)

    by jason8 (917879) on Wednesday March 11, 2009 @09:29PM (#27160697)
    $25 billion in profits last year. Yep, that $31 million fine is staggering.
  • by Idiomatick (976696) on Wednesday March 11, 2009 @09:30PM (#27160707)
    To be fair companies are people. Punitive charges don't make as much sense. Charging the people who made the decisions punitive amounts does and I believe they have/will do so. Hurting a company of thousands of employees for the actions of 2~3 people is pretty pointless. The people that made the decision will be replaced so it doesn't matter.
  • Re:Agreed (Score:3, Insightful)

    by jcnnghm (538570) on Wednesday March 11, 2009 @09:39PM (#27160797)

    Because the only other sensible thing to write is, "plans to file an appeal?"

  • Re:Agreed (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 11, 2009 @09:45PM (#27160855)

    Never heard of plea bargains, huh?

  • by muszek (882567) on Wednesday March 11, 2009 @09:49PM (#27160903) Homepage

    If the worst that can happen to our company is giving back what we stole, we're gonna do the naughty thing.

  • by LoverOfJoy (820058) on Wednesday March 11, 2009 @10:00PM (#27161039) Homepage
    Don't worry. The $31 million will just barely cover the costs of the lawyers. The government won't see a dime.
  • by Afforess (1310263) <afforess@gmail.com> on Wednesday March 11, 2009 @10:12PM (#27161157) Journal
    The best part, the new LCD screens will cost more because they have to cover "court costs." It's a lose-lose situation for consumers.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 11, 2009 @11:27PM (#27161755)
    Q: How can a "first post" be "redundant"? It's not much, but it certainly isn't the usual "first post" fare, right?
    A: Moderators mod down posters they don't like.

    AC just guessing here.
  • by eln (21727) on Wednesday March 11, 2009 @11:45PM (#27161895) Homepage

    I'd love to see a way to really punish corporations. Jailing their chief officers is a good start, but that usually only happens in the most egregious cases involving something that brings the company itself down. However, your idea to temporarily nationalize the company in order to punish it, while definitely giving the government incentive to enforce the laws, may be going a bit too far.

    Considering the country is currently many trillions of dollars in debt, and adding almost 2 trillion more to that debt this year alone, the temptation to use nationalization as the default punishment for a wide variety of infractions may prove too great for the government to resist. Before you know it, the money-hungry government will have "temporarily" nationalized hundreds of corporations in order to siphon the profits and balance its own books.

    The best option to control corporate malfeasance, in my opinion, is to make it as painful as possible to the people in the position to make decisions. The chief executives get rewarded with millions of dollars for doing a good job, and if they screw up badly enough they get...rewarded with tens of millions of dollars in severance. If screwing up carried an actual penalty for them, maybe at least some of them would think a little harder before going down that path.

  • by Idiomatick (976696) on Wednesday March 11, 2009 @11:51PM (#27161937)
    No, pay back the full amount taken. But punitive fees for people can be much more than the cost of damage (in mp3s case many 1000x). I don't think wipeing a company of thousands of employees off the face of the earth is a good idea when the act was perpetrated by a select few. And as the article states the people directly involved are getting hefty fines AND prison time. So lesson learned without having to devalue the company.
  • by fractoid (1076465) on Thursday March 12, 2009 @01:30AM (#27162611) Homepage
    In the words of the late Doctor Asimov: "What you're really saying is 'Up with Slavery for Other People!'"
  • Shit (Score:2, Insightful)

    by jhylkema (545853) on Thursday March 12, 2009 @03:29AM (#27163249)

    Our legal system needs to recognize that legal persons have a significant advantage over legal persons in court.

    Legal persons have a significant advantage over natural persons in court.

    'Course, /. could add post revision functionality like every other web board has had for nearly a decade . . .

  • by AmberBlackCat (829689) on Thursday March 12, 2009 @12:58PM (#27169061)

    The best part, the new LCD screens will cost more because they have to cover "court costs." It's a lose-lose situation for consumers.

    Unless that makes a competitor's product cost less than the Hitachi LCD...

  • Re:Short list (Score:3, Insightful)

    by sjames (1099) on Thursday March 12, 2009 @02:06PM (#27170177) Homepage

    Market fixing maximizes the effects of the market's ill health and conspires to make it even less healthy (since the conspirators effectively become a single entity as far as market competition is concerned). An act of shoplifting causes a few hundred dollars worth of economic damage at most. An act of market fixing runs into the millions. Keep in mind that price fixing only happens in markets where the barriers to entry are high. Meanwhile, the price fixing creates malinvestment by convincing another player to enter the market only to have the competitors' prices "magically" fall as soon as they do (and well before they have a chance to recoup their initial investment). That is, the price fixing creates an illusion of inelasticity in selling price that simply does not actually exist.

    Consider, as an outsider, I observer that the price of widgets seems stuck at around 150. I know I can produce them at a cost that allows me to sell for 110. I may conclude that apparently the other manufacturers can't figure out how to make them that cheaply, and go into business. Next day, magically the going rate for widgets is 109. That can only happen because the other manufacturers actually had a slightly lower production cost than me (perhaps because of volume) or because they have already recouped their initial investment. Either way, the price fixing created the illusion that neither was true and convinced me I could profitably enter the market. However, now that the illusion is broken, I'm left with no way to recoup my investment in a reasonable time. Meanwhile, I *could* have invested in something else with slightly lower expectations where the economy (and I) would have benefited more.

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