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By | Gavin Clarke 13th October 2005 19:34

Samsung pays $300m to settle DRAM cartel case

Guilty as charged

Samsung has agreed to pay $300m to settle criminal charges that it squeezed PC manufacturers by artificially fixing chip prices.

The world's largest manufacturer of memory chips will plead guilty for fixing the price of dynamic random access memory (DRAM) chips and says it will cooperate with the continuing US Department of Justice (DoJ) investigation.

The guilty plea and co-operation agreement was entered into a San Francisco, California, court by Samsung Electronics Co and Samsung Semiconductor on Thursday.

Samsung is the third major chip manufacturer to settle in the DoJ's investigation, following Hynix and Infineon Technologies. Hynix settled for $185m in April while Infineon paid $160m under its settlement last year.

The DoJ accused the companies of fixing prices in the $7.7bn DRAM market through phone calls and meetings conducted between April 1999 and June 2002. While the chips are used in a variety of consumer electronics goods, the government identified Compaq Computer, Dell, Hewlett Packard, Apple Computer, IBM and Gateway as victims.

Samsung was subpoenaed by the DoJ in 2002 and had set aside $100m during 2004 to pay potential criminal damages from the case. The case is believed to be one of the US government's largest anti-trust settlements.

Samsung said in a statement that resolution of the investigation had been "paramount". ®

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