Infineon pleads guilty to memory price-fixing

Nailed for $160m

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Infineon has agreed to pay a $160m fine to the US government for fixing the price of computer memory from 1999 to 2002, one of the biggest ever penalties imposed by the DoJ's Antitrust division. The German firm today announced that it has pled guilty to one count of price-fixing - a violation of US antitrust laws. It plans to pay off the $160m total in equal installments through 2009, it said in conjunction with the US Department of Justice (DoJ).

"The wrongdoing charged by the DoJ was limited to certain OEM customers," Infineon said. "Infineon is already been in contact with these customers and has achieved or is in the process of achieving settlements with all of these OEM customers."

The major memory makers - Samsung, Hynix, Micron and Infineon - have all been under investigation for artificially pumping up the price of DRAM. PC makers, most notably Dell, were outspoken about their concerns around memory costs. Dell Chairman Michael Dell referred to the memory makers as a cartel.

The companies were suspected of holding secret meetings to discuss pricing plans.

"According to the one-count felony charge filed today in the U.S. District Court in San Francisco, from July 1, 1999 to June 15, 2002, Infineon conspired with unnamed DRAM manufacturers to fix the prices of DRAM sold to certain computer and server manufacturers," the DoJ said. "Under the plea agreement, which must be approved by the court, Infineon has agreed to cooperate with the government in its ongoing investigation of other DRAM producers."

Infineon has received the third largest criminal fine in the history of the Antitrust Division. ®

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