Four Infineon executives guilty of DRAM price-fixing

Four executives at German memory vendor Infineon Technologies and its U.S. subsidiary have pled guilty to charges of illegally setting prices for PC memory chips, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) announced Thursday.

The sales executives admitted to a scheme to artificially set prices for DRAM (dynamic RAM) memory with other co-conspirators, who were not named in a DOJ press release Thursday. Their sentences include jail time and hefty fines, the DOJ said.

Two of the executives worked at Infineon's headquarters in Munich. Heinrich Florian, Infineon's vice president for sales, marketing, and logistics and vice president for marketing and logistics during 2001 and 2002, will serve a six-month prison sentence and pay a US$250,000 fine. Gunter Hefner, vice president of sales for memory products, will spend five months in prison and pay a US$250,000 fine for his role in the scheme during that period.

The other two executives worked at Infineon North America's San Jose, California, office. Peter Schaefer was vice president of marketing, sales and logistics in San Jose during 2001 and 2002, and will serve a four-month prison sentence for his role in the conspiracy. T. Rudd Corwin was vice president for customer marketing and sales of memory products from 1999 to 2002, and will serve a four-month sentence for price-fixing activities during those years. Both Schaefer and Corwin will also pay a US$250,000 fine.

The DOJ has been investigating allegations of DRAM price fixing since 2002. Earlier this year, Infineon pled guilty to corporate price-fixing charges and agreed to pay a US$160 million fine.

"These four executives are the first to plead guilty to a charge of fixing prices in what is still a very active and far-reaching investigation into antitrust violations in the DRAM industry," said Scott Hammond, the DOJ's director of criminal enforcement in the antitrust division, in the release. "We will continue in our efforts to bring to justice other domestic and foreign-based executives who were involved in fixing DRAM prices."

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