Samsung is under investigation for their recent pricing practices for flash memory. Turns out the problems aren’t new to the company. Samsung has pleaded guilty to charges of fixing the prices of DRAM memory from 1999-2002. In fact, they admitted to participating in a worldwide conspiracy to fix prices, which damaged competition and raised PC prices.
The plea was accepted in a U.S. District court and the company was ordered to pay a fine of $300 million, the second largest anti-trust fine in history.
According to the investigation, Samsung and other companies conspired in e-mails, phone calls and in-person meetings to set the price of chips. Samsung is not the first company to admit guilt and pay a fine. Hynix Semiconductor will pay fines of $180 million and Infineon Technologies agreed to pay $160 million last year. American chip maker Micron Technology is cooperating with the investigation and likely will not face charges.
Included in the agreement with Samsung is a promise that the U.S. government won’t pursue further charges against Samsung and most of their employees. Seven senior executives are not protected by the agreement, but it is unclear whether the government will pursue charges. Other companies are also being looked at.