Samsung Exec Pleads Guilty, Gets U.S. Jail Time - InformationWeek

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12/22/2006
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Samsung Exec Pleads Guilty, Gets U.S. Jail Time

A fifth Samsung executive has pleaded guilty to price-fixing charges that have resulted from a global investigation.

A Korean executive at Samsung Electronics has agreed to plead guilty and serve jail time in the United States in connection with a global price-fixing conspiracy, according to the government.

Young Hwan Park, president of Samsung Semiconductor, Samsung's U.S.-based subsidiary, will serve 10 months in prison and pay a $250,000 fine. According to a written statement from the Department of Justice, he also has agreed to assist the government in its ongoing investigation.

This is the fifth Samsung executive to agree to a prison sentence in the dynamic random access memory, or DRAM, price-fixing investigation. Three foreign-based executives and one U.S. executive from the company have already pleaded guilty and agreed to serve prison terms ranging from seven to eight months. Each will pay a fine of $250,000.

Four companies and 18 people have been charged in the Justice Department's investigation into a price-fixing conspiracy surrounding DRAM. Criminal fines totaling more than $730 million also have been levied. According to the government, this represents the second-largest total amount of fines ever imposed in a U.S. criminal antitrust investigation into one price-fixing conspiracy.

Park participated in the conspiracy while he was VP of sales at Samsung Electronics. He became president of Samsung Semiconductor after that. The Justice Department charges that he took part in the global conspiracy to suppress and eliminate competition by fixing the prices of DRAM to be sold to certain PC and server makers. That is in violation of the Sherman Antitrust Act.

According to the one-count charge filed in San Francisco's federal court on Thursday, Park conspired with unnamed employees from other memory makers to fix the price of DRAM sold to computer makers from April 1, 2001, to June 15, 2002. The government says the move directly affected sales to U.S. computer makers Dell, Hewlett-Packard, Compaq, IBM, Apple Computer, and Gateway.

DRAM is a commonly used semiconductor memory product, providing high-speed storage and retrieval of information. It is used in PCs, laptops, workstations, servers, printers, cell phones, and telecommunication hubs.

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