Cartel Digest

DRAM

DRAM
  Overall Cartel Period 1998-2002
  Participants Micron Technology Inc.,Micron Europe Ltd., & Micron Semiconductor GmbH; Infineon Technologies AG; Hynix Semiconductor Inc.; Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd.,; Samsung Semiconductor; NEC Corp.; Hitachi Ltd.; Mitsubishi Electric Corp. ; Toshiba Corp. & Toshiba Electronics Europe GmbH; Elpida Memory Inc. (joint venture between NEC Corp. and Hitachi Ltd.); Nanya Technology Corp.
  Total Fines (DOJ) $729 million
  Total Fines (EC) €331.1 million

In 2002 the U.S. Department of Justice (“DOJ”) and the European Commission (“EC”) began a probe into manufacturers of Dynamic Random Access Memory (“DRAM”) after U.S. computer makers, Dell and Gateway, complained of inflated DRAM prices.  DRAM is the most commonly used semiconductor memory product and can be found in a wide range of computer and electronic devices including laptops, printers, televisions and game consoles.  In 2004, DRAM sales reached approximately $7.7 billion in the United States.  According to the DOJ, from 1999 to 2002, representatives from more than 100 rival companies, from sales representatives to subsidiary heads, exchanged confidential information.  Communications between cartel members took place at meetings in a variety of locations, including at a golf course in Silicon Valley and in restaurants from South Korea to North Carolina. 

 

Enforcement Highlights:

  • The DOJ has imposed fines totaling over $729 million on four companies. 
  • Executives from four companies have entered plea agreements and have agreed to serve a total of over 100 months in jail and pay individual fines totaling over $3.7 million.  An executive from a fifth, uncharged company, plead guilty to obstructing the DOJ’s investigation into the DRAM cartel.
  • The EC has imposed fines totaling over €331 million on ten companies. 
Company Conspiracy Period Fine (USD) Plea Date No. of Excluded Individuals Plea Agreement
Elpida Memory Inc. 4/99-6/02 $84 million 03/22/2006 5 Plea Agreement
Samsung Electronics Ltd. & Samsung Semiconductor 4/99-6/02 $300 million 11/30/2005 7 Plea Agreement
Hynix Semiconductor Inc. 4/99-6/02 $185 million 05/11/2005 5 Plea Agreement
Infineon Technologies AG 7/99-6/02 $160 million 10/20/2004 4 Plea Agreement
Individual Company Prison Sentence Fine (USD) Plea Date Plea Agreement
Il Ung Kim, VP, Marketing Samsung Electronics Ltd. & Samsung Semiconductor 14 months $250,000 05/02/2007 Plea Agreement
Sun Woo Lee, Senior Manager of DRAM Sales Samsung Electronics Ltd. & Samsung Semiconductor 8 months $250,000 04/05/2006 Plea Agreement
Yeongho Kang, Associate Director, DRAM Marketing Samsung Electronics Ltd. & Samsung Semiconductor 7 months $250,000 04/05/2006 Plea Agreement
Young Woo Lee, Sales Director Samsung Electronics Ltd. & Samsung Semiconductor 7 months $250,000 08/22/2006 Plea Agreement
Thomas Quinn, VP Marketing & Memory Products, Samsung Semiconductor Samsung Electronics Ltd. & Samsung Semiconductor 8 months $250,000 11/08/2006 Plea Agreement
Young Hwan Park, President, Samsung Semiconductor Samsung Electronics Ltd. & Samsung Semiconductor 10 months $250,000 02/14/2007 Plea Agreement
Dae Soo Kim, Senior VP and General Manager, Worldwide Sales & Marketing Hynix Semiconductor Inc. 8 months $250,000 03/15/2006 Plea Agreement
Chae Kyun Chung, Director, Global Strategic Account Sales Hynix Semiconductor Inc. 7 months $250,000 03/15/2006 Plea Agreement
Kun Chul Suh , Senior Manager, Memory Product Marketing Hynix Semiconductor Inc. 6 months $250,000 03/15/2006 Plea Agreement
Choon Yub Choi, General Manager, Marketing & Sales Support, (German Subsidiary) Hynix Semiconductor Inc. 5 months $250,000 03/15/2006 Plea Agreement
T. Rudd Corwin, VP of Sales, Computing Segment Infineon Technologies AG 4 months $250,000 12/15/2004 Plea Agreement
Peter Schaefer, VP for Marketing, Sales & Logistics for Memory Products Infineon Technologies AG 4 months $250,000 12/15/2004 Plea Agreement
Gunter Hefner, VP of Sales for Memory Products Infineon Technologies AG 5 months $250,000 12/15/2004 Plea Agreement
Heinrich Florian, VP for Marketing & Logistics and later VP for Sales, Marketing & Logistics for Memory Products Infineon Technologies AG 6 months $250,000 12/15/2004 Plea Agreement
D. James Sogas, Vice President, Sales & Marketing Elpida Memory Inc. 7 months $250,000 12/03/2006 Plea Agreement
Europe
Company Fine Date
Micron Technology Inc., Micron Europe Ltd., & Micron Semiconductor GmbH Immunity 05/19/2010
Infineon Technologies AG € 56.7 million 05/19/2010
Hynix Semiconductor Inc. € 51.4 million 05/19/2010
Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd. € 145.7 million 05/19/2010
NEC Corp. € 10.3 million 05/19/2010
Hitachi Ltd. € 20.4 million 05/19/2010
Mitsubishi Electric Corp. € 16.6 million 05/19/2010
Toshiba Corp. & Toshiba Electronics Europe GmbH € 17.6 million 05/19/2010
Elpida Memory Inc. € 10.6 million 05/19/2010
Nanya Technology Corp. € 1.8 million 05/19/2010