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Samsung, the world’s biggest memory chipmaker, is to pay $90m to settle a price-fixing lawsuit brought by 41 US states.

The South Korean company also agreed to assist the states in litigation against other memory chip manufacturers who had taken part in the conspiracy.

The class-action suits filed in July last year arose from a justice department investigation begun in 2002. It uncovered one of the largest price-fixing schemes on record.

It led to $730m in fines and guilty pleas by Samsung and three other major manufacturers of dynamic random access memory (Dram) chips – Elpida, Hynix and Infineon. A fifth, Micron, admitted taking part but avoided federal criminal charges through its co-operation with the authorities.

The price-fixing suits had charged that Samsung and others reached secret agreements to inflate the prices of memory chips commonly installed in consumer desktop and notebook PCs.

“Consumers, states and localities were victims of an international conspiracy that artificially raised the price of memory chips, and thus illegally boosted the price of computers and popular hi-tech products,” said Andrew Cuomo, New York attorney-general.

Five Samsung executives have pleaded guilty in the US to price-fixing and have agreed to each pay $250,000 fines and serve prison time.

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