“The U.S. Department of Justice is demanding that a ‘remorseless’ Taiwanese company [AU Optronics] pay a $1 billion fine and two former top executives each serve 10 years in prison for their roles as central figures in what prosecutors called the most serious price-fixing cartel ever prosecuted by the U.S.,” Paul Elias reports for The Associated Press. “The proposed sentences would be the stiffest penalty ever meted out for price-fixing convictions if a federal judge adopts the DOJ’s position at sentencing Thursday. The DOJ argues the sentences are necessary to punish a company that unfairly forced U.S. consumers to pay billions more than they should have for electronics and to deter others from engaging in price fixing.”

“The DOJ lawyers made the demands, which include $1 million fines for each of the executives, in court filings Tuesday. They are wrapping up a years-long investigation of a global price-fixing scheme that artificially increased the price of LCD screens used in televisions, computers and other electronic products made by Apple Inc., Dell Computers and many of the largest high-tech companies in the United States,” Elias reports. “‘The conspiracy affected every family, school, business, charity, and government agency that paid more to purchase notebook computers, computer monitors, and LCD televisions during the conspiracy,’ prosecutors concluded in arguing for the criminal penalties.”

Elias reports, “In July, the company, along with Toshiba and LG, agreed to pay a combined $571 million to settle one of the lawsuits. Other manufactures, including Hitachi, Sharp and Samsung, agreed in December to pay $538 million to settle. U.S. District Judge Susan Illston is expected to sentence AU Optronics and its two top executives. Seven other Asian manufacturers and 22 of their executives have previously pleaded guilty and agreed to pay a combined $890 million in fines. The 10 executives who have been sentenced so far received prison terms ranging from six months to a little more than year in prison. It’s the largest criminal antitrust case ever prosecuted by the DOJ, surpassing the break-up of a vitamin cartel in the late 1990’s that netted $875 million in criminal fines.”

Much more in the full article here.