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Minister raps S. Korean company for snitching on Taiwan firms

2010/12/13 18:17:26

Taipei, Dec. 13 (CNA) A senior official on Monday accused SouthKorea's Samsung Corp. of having acted "unethically" by snitching onTaiwanese firms during a European Commission anti-trustinvestigation.

Minister of Economic Affairs Shih Yen-shiang made the remark inresponse to a legislator's question on the European Commission'sprobe into an alleged price-fixing scheme involving several Asianflat panel manufacturers.

Shih said Samsung's offer to the European investigators to turn"tainted witness" in exchange for immunity was an unethical act.

Four Taiwanese companies and another South Korean enterprise wereimplicated and fined heavily last Wednesday by the EuropeanCommission.

A total fine of 649 million euros (US$857.85 million) was imposedon LG Display of South Korea and Chimei Innolux Corp., AU OptronicsCorp., Chunghwa Picture Tubes Ltd. and HannStar Display Corp. ofTaiwan for fixing flat panel prices between Oct. 5, 2001 and Feb. 1,2006.

The fine on the four Taiwanese firms amounted to 433.92million euro (NT$17.3 billion).

According to Legislator Lee Ching-hua of the ruling Kuomintang(KMT) who raised the question, Samsung and LG of South Korea were thethe two companies most likely to manipulate flat panel prices.

"Have you ever watched a Korean TV drama titled 'Sangdo' or 'TheCommercial Ethics'?" he asked Shih.

Shih agreed that Samsung's action of turning informant was not inaccord with its own commercial ethics.

"This should not have been done," he said.

However, for the time being, Taiwan will not impose any specialrestrictions on imports from South Korea, he said.

The minister reiterated the government's support for theTaiwanese manufacturers and its willingness to help them deal withthe new rules of competition in the world market.

The four Taiwanese firms have not yet received official notice ofthe EU decision, Shih said, adding that the government will try tohelp the companies to handle the fallout as soon as they make such arequest.

Shih pointed out that the government has drafted a 10-year planfor developing Taiwan's display panel industry, whose global marketshare is equal to its South Korean counterpart.

"We will invite executives of the four companies and officialsfrom relevant government agencies to a brainstorming session nextweek to hammer out some response strategies, " the Ministry ofEconomics Affairs said in a statement last week.

(By Lin Shu-yuan and S.C. Chang)
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