Former AU Optronics executive had to wait less than four hours Tuesday for a jury to find him guilty of conspiracy to fix prices for liquid-crystal display panels.
Steven Leung sat in the cavernous federal courtroom, patted his lawyer’s arm and turned to give a quick nod to his wife in the first row.
Leung, the director of the AUO monitor sales division in Taiwan, was accused of conspiring with executives from the world’s leading LCD makers to fix the prices on panels used in laptops, computer monitors and TVs.
The executives were accused of holding clandestine meetings in Taiwan hotels between 2001 and 2006 to stabilize or raise the LCD prices at a time when the market had begun to collapse.
This was Leung’s second trial and am important victory for federal antitrust prosecutors.
Earlier this year, in a separate trial, jurors convicted two executives, H.B. Chen and Hui Hsiung, of price-fixing, along with AUO and its American subsidiary. But the same jury acquitted AUO president L.J. Chen and another AUO sales executive, Hubert Lee. Jurors deadlocked on Leung’s fate, splitting 8-4 for acquittal.
That set up the second trial for Leung.
U.S. District Judge Susan Illston set March 29, 2013 for sentencing. The maximum prison term under the statute is 10 years, but with sentencing guidelines he will likely receive a much shorter sentence.
The LCD trial is a small piece of a larger collection of court actions, including hundreds of class action lawsuits by companies that bought the panels to build finished products and purchasers of the finished computers and TVs.
So far 11 settlements produced $443 million in damages for direct purchasers of the LCD panels who paid too much under the price-fixing scheme.
Only Toshiba went to trial in a civil case this year and was found guilty, but the verdict was voided after they agreed to settle for $30 million.
For millions of consumers who purchased the finished products from computer makers, a mega-settlement of $1 billion was reached and will be distributed once the court approves the terms.
Case: U.S. v. Leung, No. CR09-110SI