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Samsung Settles DRAM Suit for $300M

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SAN JOSE, Calif., Oct. 13 -- Samsung Electronics Company Ltd. (Samsung), a Korean manufacturer of dynamic random access memory (DRAM) and its US subsidiary, Samsung Semiconductor Inc., have agreed to plead guilty and to pay a $300 million fine for participating in an international conspiracy to fix prices in the DRAM market, the Department of Justice announced today. Samsung’s fine is the second largest criminal antitrust fine in US history and the largest criminal fine since 1999, according to the department.
DRAM is the most commonly used semiconductor memory product, providing high-speed storage and retrieval of electronic information for a wide variety of computer, telecommunication and consumer electronic products.
According to the one-count felony charge filed today in the US District Court in San Francisco, from April 1, 1999 to June 15, 2002, Samsung and Samsung Semiconductor conspired with other DRAM manufacturers to fix the prices of DRAM sold to certain computer and server manufacturers. The computer makers directly affected by the price-fixing conspiracy were Dell Inc., Compaq Computer Corporation, Hewlett-Packard Co., Apple Computer Inc., International Business Machines Corp. and Gateway Inc.
Under the plea agreement, which must be approved by the court, Samsung has agreed to cooperate with the government in its ongoing investigation of other DRAM producers.
Samsung is the third major semiconductor company to agree to plead guilty to fixing DRAM prices. Korean manufacturer Hynix Semiconductor Inc. was sentenced to pay a $185 million criminal fine in May 2005, and German manufacturer Infineon Technologies was sentenced to pay $160 million in October 2004. In December 2004, four Infineon executives -- T. Rudd Corwin, Peter Schaefer, Gunter Hefner and Heinrich Florian -- pleaded guilty to the DRAM price-fixing conspiracy. All four Infineon employees served prison terms ranging from four to six months and each paid a $250,000 fine. Three of the charged Infineon employees are German citizens.
In December 2003, Alfred P. Censullo, a regional sales manager for Micron Technology Inc., was sentenced to six months of home detention after pleading guilty to having withheld and altered documents in response to a grand jury subpoena served on Micron in June 2002.
Including today’s charge, three companies and five individuals have been charged and fines totaling more that $646 million have resulted from the department’s ongoing investigation, being conducted by the antitrust division's San Francisco field office and the FBI in San Francisco.

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Oct 2005
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