Feeds

Hynix makes $185m price-fixing confession to US DoJ

Memory is all too good

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

If nothing else, the US DoJ (Department of Justice) is remarkably good at nailing foreign memory makers for price-fixing. Hynix Semiconductor, it emerged today, is the latest firm to plead guilty in a far-reaching DRAM scandal and has agreed to pay the DoJ a $185m fine.

The charge against Korean Hynix is the third-largest criminal antitrust fine in US history. It is, however, less than Hynix was prepared to pay. Last month, some nosey reporters discovered $341m piled away in Hynix's coffers just in case the DoJ came knocking.

German memory maker Infineon was the first company busted for participating in what has been described as a memory cartel. It pleaded guilty last September to price-fixing and paid a $160m fine. Micron was then implicated in the matter, and Samsung has a $100m DoJ fund of its own. Along the way, four Infineon executives pleaded guilty to price-fixing and were awarded jail time.

The DoJ has accused all of these memory makers of keeping the price of their products artificially high between 1999 and 2002. Executives from the companies are said to have held phone calls and meetings and to have exchanged e-mails about setting memory prices. Numerous computer makers complained about the "memory cartel" during this period, although Dell was the most openly critical vendor.

“Price fixing imperils free markets, impairs innovation, and harms American consumers,” said Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales. “Today’s charge and its resulting guilty plea are another significant step forward in the Department’s ongoing fight to break up and prosecute international cartels that harm American consumers. This case shows that high-tech price-fixing cartels will not be tolerated.”

In the case of Hynix, the DoJ found evidence of price-fixing that affected Dell, Compaq, HP, Apple, IBM and Gateway.

It's so rare to see a company admit to wrongdoing in this day and age that one wonders what goes on behind closed doors with the DoJ officials. They seem to have a real way with words on the memory front. ®

Related stories

Hynix ring-fences $342m against antitrust fines
Mosaid, Hynix settle patent spat
Infineon sales slip - and will fall further
Samsung founds $100m antitrust fines fund
Mugging the truth to spin Blunkett's comeback
Four Infineon execs heading to jail on price-fixing charges

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

More from The Register

next story
Bono apologises for iTunes album dump
Megalomania, generosity and FEAR of irrelevance drove group to Apple deal
Facebook, Apple: LADIES! Why not FREEZE your EGGS? It's on the company!
No biological clockwatching when you work in Silicon Valley
Arab States make play for greater government control of the internet
Nerds told to get lost in last-minute power grab bid at UN meeting
Apple SILENCES Bose, YANKS headphones from stores
The, er, Beats go on after noise-cancelling spat
Doctor Who's Flatline: Cool monsters, yes, but utterly limp subplots
We know what the Doctor does, stop going on about it already
Zippy one-liners, broken promises: Doctor Who on the Orient Express
Series finally hits stride, but Clara's U-turn is baffling
Don't bother telling people if you lose their data, say Euro bods
You read that right – with the proviso that it's encrypted
America's super-secret X-37B plane returns to Earth after nearly TWO YEARS aloft
674 days in space for US Air Force's mystery orbital vehicle
10 Top Tips For PRs Considering Whether To Phone The Register
You'll Read These And LOL Even Though They're Serious
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Win a year’s supply of chocolate
There is no techie angle to this competition so we're not going to pretend there is, but everyone loves chocolate so who cares.
Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.