Infineon Technologies, the German DRAM manufacturer has agreed to plead guilty and to pay a $160 million fine for participating in an international conspiracy to fix prices in the DRAM market, the US Department of Justice said yesterday.
According to a ‘one-count felony charge’ filed in the US 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.
Infineon is charged with carrying out the conspiracy by meeting with competitors to discuss the prices of DRAM to be sold to certain customers, agreeing, during those meetings, to charge prices of DRAM at certain levels to be sold to certain customers, and issuing price quotations in accordance with the agreements. It was also charged with exchanging information on sales of DRAM to certain customers for the purpose of monitoring and enforcing adherence to the agreed-upon prices.
Computer makers directly affected by the price-fixing conspiracy were Dell, Compaq, Hewlett-Packard, Apple Computer and Gateway.
Under a plea agreement, which must be approved by the court, Infineon has agreed to cooperate with the US government in its ongoing investigation of other DRAM producers.
“Infineon is the first company to agree to plead guilty to price-fixing charges in our ongoing investigation of antitrust violations in the DRAM industry,” said James M. Griffin, the Antitrust Division’s Deputy Assistant Attorney General for Criminal Enforcement.
Infineon’s fine is the third largest criminal fine in the history of the Antitrust Division.