DRAM makers fined €331m for euro cartel
They all agreed they did it...
The European Commission has fined ten memory chip makers a total of €331m - as part of the first settlement made for cartel charges.
Ten chipmakers were found guilty of running a cartel in order to fix prices. The fine was cut by ten per cent in recognition of the companies' acceptance of the facts.
Micron had its fine cancelled completely for grassing up the other suppliers.
Micron, Samsung, Hynix, Infineon, NEC, Hitachi, Mitsubishi, Toshiba, Elpida and Nanya were all found guilty of competition offences.
The companies ran a cartel from 1 July 1998 until 15 June 2002. They shared secret information in order to set prices for Dynamic Random Access Memory which they sold to computer manufacturers. Micron got full immunity for informing the Commission that the cartel was running.
Infineon, Hynix, Samsung, Elpida and NEC all asked for leniency because of their cooperation. The Commission cut Infineon's fine by 45 per cent and Hynix's by 27 per cent, and the remaining three all got 18 per cent cut from their fines. All then saw fines shrink by another ten per cent for agreeing the settlement.
The Commission welcomed the first successful use of the simplified settlement procedure first introduced in 2008.
Fines are based on the seriousness of the offences and the size of sales within Europe. Full details here. ®
Jail terms for the CEOs and board would be a more interesting punishment
How do i get my money back?
Oh, I don't. Well that's deeply reassuring.
There's an interesting question of timing here... when you join in a cartel you have to figure out how long its going to be useful to the members, because there's going to be a point at which the best thing to do is to hit the grass up button and get your opponents trashed without any penalty yourself, having gained all the advantage from being in the cartel...
For the really devious businessman there's a formidable incentive to promote a cartel and then blowing the whistle at the right moment - there's a much greater gain to be had than not joining a cartel at all. Who was it sais that legislation nearly always has the opposite effect to that intended? There's an oBvious figure who should have the icon with horns for this one, but the option isn't available...