If you bought a computer notebook, computer monitor or big-screen TV anytime from winter 2001 to 2006, you were probably the victim of an international price-fixing conspiracy. An FBI report came out, detailing how the largest Taiwanese producer and seller of LCD panels—AU Optronics Corporation—conspired to fix prices and overcharge customers. AU Optronics is the eighth company convicted in this price-fixing scheme. Two former top executives have been sentenced to three years in prison, and ordered to pay a $500 million criminal fine.
Other sanctions included a requirement for the company to take out ads in newspapers publicizing what they did. This step does not appear to have a reparative function—they aren’t looking for customers to repay—it’s purely to scare others who might have been thinking about doing the same thing. Maybe other branches of the criminal justice system could consider something similar. For instance, instead of giving this guy 80 years in prison, how about 5 years, and he has to take out an ad in several Montana papers that says “I grew pot, and I’m very sorry.”
To those who did purchase a notebook, monitor or big-screen TV, an open question: would you rather have $100 or the ability to truthfully say that you were the victim of an international conspiracy?