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October 19, 2006 6:49 pm

Samsung, Hynix executives indicted

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Executives of South Korean chipmakers Samsung Electronics and Hynix Semiconductor were indicted by the US on Thursday for price-fixing charges in the computer memory chip business, as part of the long-running antitrust investigation by the US Department of Justice.

The indictment, filed by the US District Court in San Francisco, said that Kim Il-ung and Rha Young-bae, vice-presidents at Samsung, and Gary Swanson, vice-president at Hynix, participated in a global conspiracy between April 2001 and June 2002 to fix prices of D-Ram chips used in personal computers and other electronics devices.

Thursday’s indictment was part of the DoJ’s wide-ranging probe into an international conspiracy to fix D-Ram prices. The scandal has ensnared four companies and 13 individuals and elicited $731m in fines, the second-largest criminal antitrust fine in history.

Samsung pleaded guilty last year and paid a $300m fine for its role in the conspiracy. Hynix paid $185m in 2004, while Germany’s Infineon Technologies paid $160m in fines in 2003.

At the time of the conspiracy, Mr Kim and Mr Rha were vice-presidents of sales and marketing for Samsung’s memory division, while Mr Swanson was senior vice-president of memory sales and marketing for Hynix’s US subsidiary.

If convicted, the three men could face up to three years in prison and a $350,000 fine.

Samsung and Hynix declined to comment on the indictments.

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