Samsung settles a suit on price-fixing in U.S.

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Samsung settles a suit on price-fixing in U.S.

Samsung Electronics Co. and its U.S. subsidiary, Samsung Semiconductor Inc., agreed to plead guilty to charges of price-fixing on semiconductors. They will pay a fine of $300 million, the U.S. Justice Department announced yesterday. That is the second-largest antitrust fine imposed in the United States and the largest during the Bush administration. The Justice Department said Samsung conspired with other semiconductor manufacturers to set the prices of dynamic random access memory chips sold to computer manufacturers. It said the price-fixing went on from April 1, 1999 to June 15, 2002, adding that companies such as Dell and Apple Computer were hurt. Korean government officials had no official comment. One Commerce Ministry official said, “We just wanted a fair and thorough investigation. Now that the fine has been levied, we're not in a position to discuss a decision that the U.S. Justice Department has reached." A senior official at the Trade Ministry said while the ministry advises Korean manufacturers to be prudent in their U.S. businesses, it does not want to involve itself in the legal troubles of an individual firm. “I don't think there is any room for us to intervene and say something," the official said, "and I suspect Samsung doesn't want us to intervene either." Chu Woo-sik, head of investor relations at Samsung Electronics, said the case will not have a large financial impact on the company. "We've settled the issue with the U.S. Justice Department, and we've taken care of the fine with reserves we've set aside," he said. "As for our seven employees [implicated in charges not settled by Samsung's guilty plea], it's up to the department to decide." Samsung is the third semiconductor manufacturer to plead guilty to price-fixing charges. In April, Korea's Hynix Semiconductor Inc. was slapped with a $185-million fine, and in September 2004, the German company Infineon Technologies AG was fined $160 million. by Yoo Jee-ho

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