Mitsubishi has been contacted by US Department of Justice investigators looking into price fixing in the computer memory market, the Japanese company said Monday.
The DOJ's antitrust division contacted US-unit Mitsubishi Electric and Electronics USA in search of documents relating to Mitsubishi's DRAM (dynamic RAM) business in the US between 1998 and 2002. No other details of the request were provided by Mitsubishi.
An ongoing DOJ investigation has uncovered evidence of price fixing between major memory makers bidding for business with major US computer makers including Dell, Apple, HP and IBM.
In October 2004 Germany's Infineon Technologies pleaded guilty and had a $160 million criminal fine levied against it. Then in May 2005, Korean manufacturer Hynix Semiconductor also admitted guilt and was sentenced to pay a $185 million criminal fine. In November 2005, Samsung Semiconductor and its Korean parent Samsung Electronics also confessed to guilt in the price-fixing investigation and suffered a $300 million fine.
The first Japanese company to become entangled in the probe, Elpida Memory, pleaded guilty and agreed to pay a $84 million fine earlier this year.
Most recently three Samsung executives agreed to serve prison time for the part they played in the price fixing. The company's senior manager of memory sales agreed to serve eight months in a US prison and two other managers agreed to serve seven months. The three also agreed to pay $250,000 each and cooperate with the ongoing investigation.
Mitsubishi said it is: "Unable to predict the impact of the DOJ request or civil lawsuits, including but not limited to a possible adverse affect, on our business performance in the future" but stopped short of revising its financial forecast.