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Four Infineon execs heading to jail on price-fixing charges

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Four Infineon executives will serve jail time after pleading guilty to being part of an "international conspiracy" to fix the price of computer memory, the US Department of Justice announced today.

Heinrich Florian, Günter Hefner, Peter Schaefer, and T. Rudd Corwin will serve between four and six months in the clink and pay $250,000 each to settle their role in the price fixing scandal. All of the workers operated in Infineon's sales division both here and in Germany. They have agreed to help with the DoJ's ongoing investigation into the conduct of the major memory makers.

"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 D. Hammond, the Antitrust Division's Director of Criminal Enforcement. "We will continue in our efforts to bring to justice other domestic and foreign-based executives who were involved with fixing DRAM prices."

Infineon admitted in September to keeping the price of memory artificially high between 1999 and 2002. It agreed to pay a $160m fine for its actions. Micron made a similar admission in November, although the company will likely avoid paying a fine. Samsung and Hynix are also under investigation.

Dell was one of the leading computer/server makers that complained about the memory maker's actions with CEO Michael Dell referring to the companies as a cartel at one point. A number of other hardware makers were affected by the pricing.

The four Infineon staffers were charged with participating in meetings to discuss the price of DRAM memory in which they set certain prices for the products. In addition, the DoJ charged them with exchanging information on customer purchases. The DoJ found them in violation of the Sherman Antitrust Act. ®

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