A sixth executive of Samsung Electronics Company, Ltd. (Samsung) has agreed to plead guilty to conspiring to fix prices for dynamic random access memory chips (DRAM). The executive, Il Ung Kim, is a citizen of Korea and a former vice president for marketing in Samsung’s memory division. The indictment against Kim, which was filed in the US District Court in San Francisco in October 2006, alleged a single count of price fixing in violation of the Sherman Act. Under the terms of his plea agreement, Kim will serve 14 months in a US prison – the longest term ever by a foreign defendant charged with price fixing in the United States. In addition, Kim will pay a US$250,000 criminal fine and assist prosecutors in their continuing investigation of the DRAM conspiracy.
To date, the court has imposed fines totaling more than US$730 million against members of the DRAM cartel – the second largest total ever resulting from a US criminal antitrust investigation. Including Kim, 18 individuals and four companies have been charged for their roles in the conspiracy. The companies include Samsung; another Korean DRAM manufacturer, Hynix Semiconductor, Inc.; German manufacturer Infineon Technologies AG; and Japanese manufacturer Elpida Memory, Inc. Affirming the extraterritorial reach of the Sherman Act against members of foreign price fixing cartels, the assistant attorney general in charge of the DOJ’s Antitrust Division, Thomas O. Barnett, stated that his agency is “committed to prosecuting executives who violate US antitrust laws and harm consumers and competition in the United States, even when those executives conduct their cartel activity overseas.”