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Samsung execs pleading guilty to price-fixing of computer chips

[JURIST] Three Samsung [corporate website] executives agreed to plead guilty [US DOJ press release] Wednesday for conspiring to drive up the prices in the market for dynamic random access memory (DRAM) chips. The three South Koreans will serve jail sentences between seven and eight months and pay fines of $250,000. The pleas await approval from a federal judge in San Francisco. The agreements follow the announcement [DOJ press release] that Samsung, the world’s largest maker of computer memory chips, pleaded guilty [JURIST report] to criminal antitrust charges [indictment text] and was ordered pay a $300 million fine, the second largest fine in a criminal antitrust case, for participating in the scheme.

The pleas stem from the DOJ's ongoing investigation into price-fixing in the DRAM industry. Prosecutors received complaints from PC makers, such as Dell and Apple, when the price of memory chips began to climb in 2001, even though the tech industry was suffering its worst downturn in history. Earlier this month, four Hynix Semiconductor [corporate website] executives agreed to plead guilty [CNet report], following the company’s guilty plea on conspiracy charges [JURIST report] in April 2005 for the role it played in the price-fixing scheme. In December 2004, four Infineon executives pleaded guilty to similar charges of price-fixing [JURIST report]. CNet has more.

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