China's National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) recently found six flat-panel display makers guilty of price fixing and has imposed fines totaling 353 million yuan (approximately $57 million). The companies involved in the alleged scheme that lasted from 2001 to 2006 were Samsung, LG Display (NYSE:LPL), AU Optronics (OTC:AUO), Innolux, Chunghwa Picture Tubes, and HannStar Display.
The NDRC said the companies held 53 meetings where they exchanged information and negotiated prices in order to manipulate the LCD panel market. As a result, panel costs comprised roughly 80% of TV production during that time. Since then, those costs have come down and now comprise closer to 70% of TV component costs.
This comes just months after the U.S. Department of Justice fined AU Optronics $500 million for its own investigation into the price fixing conspiracy. The NDRC said its fines were lighter compared to other regulators because it based its punishment on China's "price law" instead of its "anti-monopoly law," which carries lesser penalties.