AUO vows to fight back against Korean court's price-fixing ruling
Taipei, Nov. 28 (CNA) AUO Corp., a leading Taiwanese flat panel maker, may file an appeal or take other measures to fight a recent court ruling in South Korea that ordered AUO and Taiwanese rival Hannstar Display Corp. to pay compensation for alleged price-fixing.
In an announcement posted on the Taiwan Stock Exchange, where AUO and Hannstar shares are traded, AUO said that in addition to a possible appeal, it will evaluate other "appropriate actions" against the ruling.
AUO will also assign appropriate provisions for the possible compensation, which could hit 29.1 billion won (US$22.52 million) plus interest, the company said, adding that the ruling is unlikely to affect its operations.
Hannstar, which has been ordered to pay 3.79 billion won plus interest, said it had not yet received any court documents but when it does, it will file an appeal against the ruling.
If interest is included, the compensation will rise to 53.5 billion won for AUO and 6.97 billion won for Hannstar, according to news reports from South Korea.
Citing unnamed sources, South Korean news media said Monday that AUO and Hannstar were recently ordered by the Seoul Central District Court to pay damages to LG Electronics Inc. for fixing the prices of thin film transistor-liquid crystal display (TFT-LCD) panels.
AUO and other flat panel manufacturers and distributors in Taiwan, Japan and South Korea were accused by the U.S. Justice Department in the late 2000s of colluding to fix prices of TFT-LCD panels during secret bilateral and multilateral meetings dubbed the "crystal meetings," held in Taiwan from 2001 to 2006.
AUO and its U.S. unit AU Optronics Corp. America, headquartered in Houston, which had insisted on their innocence, were found guilty of the price-fixing conspiracy in March 2012.
Eight other companies pleaded guilty and have paid pay more than US$1.39 billion in criminal fines since 2008, with Samsung Electronics Co. serving as a witness for the prosecution.
LG Electronics initially sued five Taiwanese companies in a civil case, following the criminal case brought by the U.S. Department of Justice, but dropped the lawsuit against the three companies other than AUO and Hannstar.
According to reports from South Korea, the court dismissed the Taiwanese companies' arguments that the lawsuit should be heard in their country of origin, ruling that the case and the parties involved have a practical connection with South Korea.
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