January 31, 2006 – Japanese DRAM memory provider Elpida Memory Inc. has agreed to plead guilty and pay an $84 million fine for participating in an international conspiracy to fix prices in the DRAM market, joining four other memory manufacturers in plea deals that have added up to more than $725 million in fines.
Under the charges, Elpida conspired with several DRAM manufacturers to fix prices of dynamic random-access memory from 1999-2002, including certain sales made by Elpida founders NEC and Hitachi, which impacted US systems makers Dell, Compaq, Hewlett-Packard, Apple, IBM, and Gateway. In addition, Elpida also allegedly conspired with an unnamed DRAM manufacturer to rig a bid for a lot sold to Sun Microsystems in 2002.
Similar deals already had been reached by Infineon Technologies AG (October 2004, $160 million), Hynix Semiconductor Inc. (May 2005, $185 million) and Samsung Electronics Company Ltd. (November 2005, $300 million). Micron Technology cooperated with prosecutors early on and has not been charged.
“We are gratified to bring to justice another member of the DRAM cartel, which is one of the largest cartels ever discovered,” stated Thomas Barnett, acting assistant attorney general in charge of the US Department of Justice’s antitrust division.