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AU Optronics found guilty of US price fixing, appeal already in the works

Darren Murph
03.15.12
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AU Optronics has had its name bandied about in the courtroom before, most recently in a 2009 group suit where it was targeted for LCD price fixing. 'Course, LCD price fixing has been quite a popular pastime for a smattering of outfits, but it looks like AUO will be seeing the wrong end of the decision process here in the States. A US court found the Taiwanese company guilty in a case that could see it hit with a fine totaling as much as $1 billion. Yeah, with a b. As it goes, the outfit was charged as part of an alleged price-fixing group that operated between 1999 and 2006, but it was the only Asian LCD maker in that lot to plead not guilty. This here ruling comes after LG agreed to pay a $400 million fine in 2008, while Samsung talked itself into an early deal to sidestep prosecution. A pair of AUO execs were also found guilty, but its former CEO L.J. Chen (who is still hanging around in the top brass) was not. We're told that the company plans to appeal -- a process that could last as long as a year -- but that hasn't kept its stock price from sinking in the interim. First comes sliding LCD margins, and now the looming thought of a $1 billion slap on the wrist; suddenly, your woes don't seem so bad, huh?

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