AU Optronics 'disappointed' by Price-fixing Indictment

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Taiwanese display maker AU Optronics expressed disappointment at an indictment brought against it in a price-fixing case filed by the U.S. Department of Justice, saying the facts in the case don't support the charges.

"AUO has cooperated with the DOJ and other authorities in their investigations of the TFT-LCD (thin film transistor liquid crystal display) industry since they began in December of 2006 and is disappointed with the DOJ's action today," the company said in an e-mail statement. TFT-LCD panels are used in a range of devices, including laptops, monitors and televisions.

On Thursday, a grand jury in San Francisco indicted AUO, its U.S. subsidiary and six executives for involvement in a worldwide conspiracy to fix TFT-LCD prices over a five-year period, from 2001 to 2006. AU Optronics Vice Chairman H.B. Chen and President L.J. Chen are among the executives included in the indictment.

The suit against AU Optronics is part of a wider antitrust investigation into TFT-LCD price fixing. So far, six companies have pleaded guilty to charges of price fixing and have been fined more than $860 million.

According to the charges, AU Optronics agreed to set prices of TFT-LCD panels during meetings and set price quotes in accordance with the agreements reached. Executives also shared data on TFT-LCD sales to monitor and enforce the pricing agreements. Those charges were disputed by the company.

"AUO believes the facts of the case do not warrant such charges, as shown, among others, by the intense competition within the industry which has benefitted consumers as shown by the steep decline in prices over the years for TFT-LCD panels," the company said, adding it would defend itself against the charges.

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