Samsung Electronics and six other producers of liquid-crystal displays have agreed to pay around $553 million in compensation to settle consumer and state regulator claims they conspired to "fix" prices for LCD panels used in televisions, laptops and computer displays.
The firms include Samsung Electronics, Chunghwa Picture Tubes, Epson, Chimei Innolux, HannStar, Hitachi, and Sharp. The accusations in eight different U.S. states claim the seven manufacturers worked in unison to increase the price of displays from 2001-2006. Although agreeing to the payout, all the firms strongly deny any wrongdoing.
Samsung will be paying the largest share at $240 million, followed by Sharp at $115.5 million and Chimei Innolux at $110.3 million. Hitachi will have to pay $39 million, HannStar $25.7 million, while Chunghwa and Epson were fined $5.3 million and $2.9 million each.
Of the total paid out, around $500 million will be used to partially refund buyers who purchased goods containing the displays from the aforementioned firms in the states of Arkansas, California, Florida, Michigan, Missouri, New York, West Virginia and Wisconsin. Legal damages and settlement of claims and fines will comsume the remainder of the payout.
"This price-fixing scheme manipulated the playing field for businesses that abide by the rules, and left consumers to pay artificially higher costs for televisions, computers and other electronics," said Eric Schneiderman, a New York Attorney General when speaking to the BBC.
The court documents also stated the firms agreed to establish antitrust compliances and will be expected to help prosecute other defendants according to Reuters. The court will still need to approve the payout.
This follows an earlier settlement on December 9th, in which several manufacturers agreed to pay $388 million in settlement of a class action suit for alleged price fixing which stemmed from an investigation by the U.S. Justice Department.