EU Fines Screen Producers $1.9B for Price Fixing

European regulators have hit the makers of cathode ray tubes used in television and computer monitors with a $1.96 billion fine for price fixing between 1996 and 2006.

The European Union Commission accused a number of companies, including LG Electronics, Panasonic (NYSE:PC) and Philips (NYSE:PHG), of conspiring to fix prices for the tubes, unfairly raising prices for consumers, the Associated Press noted.

EU officials had acquired documents indicating that officials at the companies deliberately participated in the price-fixing, including one which warned of EU sanctions if the scheme became public.

Philips and LG, together, were find $1.3 billion, while Panasonic received a $205 million fine. Philips said that it would appeal the decision, calling it “unjust.”

The fines mark the EU’s largest fine imposed on a cartel of companies to date.

Cathode ray tubes once accounted for as much as 70% of the overall cost of television and monitor screens before they were replaced by the widespread adoption of LCD technology over the last decade.

The EU Commission accused the companies of participating in anti-competitive practices and said “millions and million of citizens” were victims of the artificially-inflated prices resulting from the manufacturers’ collusion.

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