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SDI agrees to pay US$32 mln in fines for price fixing conspiracy: Justice Dept.

   WASHINGTON (Yonhap) -- South Korea's Samsung SDI Co. has agreed to pay US$32 million in fines for trying to fix the prices of color display tubes used for computer monitors, the Justice Department said Friday.

   "Samsung SDI Company Ltd. has agreed to plead guilty and to pay a $32 million criminal fine for its role in a global conspiracy to fix prices, reduce output and allocate market shares of color display tubes (CDTs), a type of cathode ray tube used in computer monitors and other specialized applications," the department said in a statement.

   The department's antitrust division Friday brought the charges against Samsung SDI and six individuals to the U.S. District Court in San Fransisco, accusing the company, affiliated with South Korea's largest business conglomerate Samsung Group, of "participating in a conspiracy from at least as early as January 1997, until at least as late as March 2006, to suppress and eliminate competition by fixing prices, reducing output and allocating market shares of CDTs to be sold in the United States and elsewhere."

   Under the plea agreement reached by Samsung SDI and the Justice Department, the company is also set to cooperate with the department's ongoing cathode ray tube investigation.

   The Sherman Antitrust Act carries up to $100 million in fines for corporations.

   "The maximum fine may be increased to twice the gain derived from the crime or twice the loss suffered by the victims of the crime, if either of those amounts is greater than the statutory maximum fine," the department said.

   The department has indicted six other individuals for their involvement in the case, charging they "met in South Korea, China, Taiwan, Malaysia and elsewhere for their discussions."

   Among them are Seung-Kyu Simon Lee, Yeong-ug Albert Yang, Jae-sik J.S. Kim, Chung Cheng Alex Yeh, Wen Jun Tony Cheng and Cheng Yuan C.Y. Lin.

   Samsung SDI is the first company to be fined under the antitrust law involving price fixing of CDTs, which the department and Federal Bureau of Investigation have been investigating for the past few years.  

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