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From Antitrust Law Daily, November 18, 2015

Taiwanese executive pleads guilty to role in color display tube price fixing conspiracy

By Jeffrey May, J.D.

More than five years after a federal grand jury handed down its indictment against Chun-Cheng (Alex) Yeh, the former sales executive at Chunghwa Picture Tubes Ltd. has pleaded guilty for his participation in a global conspiracy to fix prices of color display tubes (CDTs). Today, the Department of Justice Antitrust Division announced Yeh’s plea agreement, which is subject to court approval (U.S. v. Yeh, Case No. 10 CRIM 0231).

Yeh, a resident of Taiwan, was indicted in 2010. According to the charge, the defendant agreed to charge prices at set levels or ranges, to reduce output by shutting down production lines, and to allocate target market shares for the CDT market overall and for certain CDT customers. CDTs are a type of cathode ray tube (CRT) used in computer monitors and other specialized applications. The defendant also was alleged to have exchanged CDT sales, production, market share, and pricing information for the purpose of implementing, monitoring, and enforcing their agreements. He was charged with participating in the conspiracy from around May 1999 until March 2006.

Plea agreement. Under the terms of the plea agreement, Yeh has agreed to continue cooperating with the government in its ongoing investigation. In recognition of the defendant's cooperation to date, the Justice Department is recommending that Yeh be sentenced to eight months in prison and fined $20,000. The plea agreement is subject to court approval.

Unsuccessful attempt at dismissal. The plea follows an unsuccessful attempt by Yeh in 2013 to have the indictment dismissed. The federal district court in San Francisco held that the defendant as a fugitive could not bring a motion to dismiss the criminal charges because he had not submitted to the jurisdiction of the court and had not been arraigned.

Related charges. Yeh is the first individual to plead guilty in connection with the CDT investigation. Charges against other individuals for conspiring to fix CDT prices remain pending. In 2011, Samsung SDI Company Ltd. agreed to plead guilty and to pay a $32 million criminal fine for its role in the CDT conspiracy.

The first charge arising out of the investigation came in 2009, when the former chairman and chief executive officer of Chunghwa Picture Tubes, Cheng Yuan Lin, aka C.Y. Lin, was indicted. Charges against other former Chunghwa executives followed. Four indicted individuals remain fugitives, according to the Justice Department.

The indictments in the CDT probe followed guilty pleas from Chunghwa, and other leading electronics manufacturers, such as LG Display Co. Ltd. and Sharp Corporation, for their roles in conspiracies to fix prices in the sale of liquid crystal display (LCD) panels. LCD panels are used in computer monitors and notebooks, televisions, mobile phones, and other electronic devices.

Attorneys: Lidia Maher for Department of Justice. Douglas Robert Schwartz (Schwartz & Cera LLP) for defendant.

Companies: Chunghwa Picture Tubes Ltd.; Samsung SDI Company Ltd.; LG Display Co. Ltd.; Sharp Corp.

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