AUO price-fixing case to begin Jan. 9 in US


LOS ANGELES — A trial of alleged price fixing conducted by Taiwanese flat panel maker AU Optronics Corp. (AUO) is scheduled to begin in the United States in January, sources close to the case said Wednesday.

After more than a year of investigation and negotiations, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California has decided to hear the anti-trust case Jan. 9.

AUO, which has repeatedly denied any involvement and has vowed not to plead guilty, declined to comment on the trial.

AUO, a subsidiary in Houston, and six of its former and present senior executives, were indicted by the U.S. Department of Justice in June 2010 on allegations that the company conspired to fix flat screen prices with other industry rivals in Asia between September 2001 and December 2006.

Three of the six indicated AUO executives — Chen Hsuan-bin, Chen Lai-juh and Hsiung Hui, have been barred from leaving the U.S. since August 2010 following a hearing.

Prosecutors said there was a flight risk.

The sources said that after the order barring the three executives from leaving the U.S., AUO and the Justice Department launched negotiations. The talks failed to yield any consensus and the court decided to go to trial, the sources said.