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Three Samsung DRAMers prepare for life behind bars

A dirty dozen

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The memory cartel saga continued today with three Samsung Electronics executives agreeing to go to the slammer and make amends for fixing DRAM prices.

Senior manager of DRAM sales Sun Woo Lee will serve eight months, while two lower level DRAM staffers Yeongho Kang and Young Woo Lee will serve seven months. All three have plead guilty to participating in a conspiracy to fix the prices of DRAM. All told, four companies - Hynix, Infineon, Elpida and Samsung - have been caught up in the memory scandal and paid $731m in fines.

“True deterrence occurs when guilty individuals serve jail terms, and not just when corporations pay criminal fines,” said US Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. “These pleas should send a clear message that we will hold accountable all conspirators, whether domestic or foreign, that harm American consumers through their illegal conduct.”

The actions of the memory makers affected the likes of Dell, HP, Compaq, IBM, Gateway, Apple and their customers.

The Samsung executives join nine other executives at various companies who have been charged in the memory ordeal. The Samsung staffers will each pay a $250,000 fine in addition to going to the clink.

The US government has built a case showing that the memory makers held meetings from 1999 to 2002 in which they worked to set common prices for DRAM. During this period, PC maker executives such as Michael Dell accused the companies of acting like a cartel.

The US Department of Justice warned that its still in pursuit of people involved in the memory scandal.

“These are the first executives from Samsung to plead guilty to fixing prices in what is still an active investigation into antitrust violations in the DRAM industry,” said Thomas O. Barnett, Assistant Attorney General in charge of the Department’s Antitrust Division. “We will continue our efforts to bring to justice other domestic and foreign-based executives who were involved with fixing DRAM prices.” ®

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