Managing Principal Bruce Deal Testifies in AU Optronics Criminal Price-Fixing Matter
April 25, 2012
A rare criminal price-fixing trial was recently concluded in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) brought claims of price-fixing in this criminal matter involving AU Optronics (AUO), several of its executives, and the market for thin-film-transistor liquid crystal displays (LCD). The trial was part of a broader, ongoing Antitrust Division investigation into the LCD industry. Prior to this trial, numerous other LCD companies had pleaded guilty or entered into the amnesty program of the DOJ.
Taiwanese company AUO and members of its leadership team were alleged to have colluded with several LCD manufacturers, including LG Display Co., Samsung Electronics Co., and Sharp Corp., to set the prices of LCD panels used in a variety of electronic products. The DOJ claimed that the companies gained more than $500 million from the cartel arrangement between 2001 and 2006.
The six-week trial involved numerous law firms, including Nossaman LLP, Sedgwick LLP, Cooley LLP, and the Law Office of John D. Cline. These firms retained a team from Analysis Group, led by Managing Principal Bruce Deal and Manager Asta Sendonaris, to assess multiple economic issues raised in the case. Mr. Deal testified at trial and opined that the economic data for AUO was inconsistent with AUO participating in a cartel to increase prices.
The jury deliberated for seven days and returned a mixed verdict. It acquitted two of the AUO defendants, failed to reach a decision on another one of the defendants, and returned guilty verdicts for former AUO President Hsuan Bin Chen, AUO Executive Vice President Hui Hsiung, AUO, and its U.S. subsidiary AUO Corporation America. AUO and the defendants have not yet been sentenced or fined, and the verdicts are being appealed.