Wednesday, November 28, 2012

LCD price fixing

I read two U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) newsfeeds because of my job, but I often run across things that have nothing to do with biometrics.

People could be forgiven if they believe that the FBI has only focused on terrorism since 9/11. In reality, they still pursue all sorts of criminals, including a Taiwanese company accused of price fixing for LCD panels:

[T]op-level executives from a number of Asian manufacturers of LCD panels met secretly in a Taiwan hotel room and agreed to a plan to fix the prices of LCDs in the U.S. and elsewhere.

During subsequent monthly meetings, group members exchanged production, shipping, supply, demand, and pricing information on LCD panels used in computer notebooks, monitors, and flat-screen TVs. Participants agreed on prices and would then sell their products at these prices to some of the world’s largest technology companies who used LCD panels in their products.

The company that was charged, AU Optronics, continued these meetings for several years, although it and the other companies had to change their tactics to avoid detection. Initially, top-level company executives would meet in hotel rooms. In later years, lower level employees would meet in cafes.

Eventually the FBI got involved, and AU Optronics was subject to a $500 million fine, and company executives were sent to Federal prison.

But there's still a terrorism connection. The FBI took pains to note that the first meeting of the Asian manufacturers occurred right after 9/11.
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