WASHINGTON – An executive of South Korea's Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. has agreed to plead guilty to price-fixing in the U.S. government's long-running investigation of the computer memory chip business, the Justice Department said on Thursday.
Il Ung Kim, vice president of marketing for the memory division at Samsung, is the sixth Samsung executive to agree to plead guilty in the case, the department said. He agreed to serve 14 months in a U.S. prison, the department said.
As part of his plea agreement, Kim agreed to pay a $250,000 criminal fine and to cooperate with prosecutors in the ongoing investigation. The entry of the plea agreement and sentencing is currently scheduled for April 25, the Justice Department said. The plea and recommended sentence must be approved by the court.
The government has blamed the price-fixing scheme for driving up the price of chips used in personal computers, servers, cell phones, cameras and game consoles.
"Samsung is strongly committed to fair competition and ethical practices and forbids anti-competitive behavior. Samsung is committed to growing its business and serving our customers by investing in R&D and advanced manufacturing and developing value-added technology," Samsung spokeswoman Chris Goodhart said in a statement.
To date, courts have imposed criminal fines totaling more than $730 million against members of the computer chip cartel, the department said. A total of 18 individuals and four companies have been charged as a result of the investigation.