Federal Judge Allows Price-Fixing Defendant to Travel Abroad

Last June, the Justice Department indicted eight companies and 22 executives in the liquid crystal display (LCD) electronics market, accusing them of participating in a broad price fixing conspiracy. Among those indicted were five executives at the Taiwanese company AU Optronics Corp., including CEO Lai-Juh Chen.

In August, U.S. District Judge Susan Illston ordered Chen to remain in the U.S. because the Justice Department considered him to be a flight risk. At that time, Chen had argued that he needed to be able to travel to Taiwan for important business meetings. On Friday, Chen’s federal criminal defense attorney asked the Northern California federal judge to allow Chen to go to Taiwan to visit his father and celebrate the Chinese New Year.

This time, Illston relented. She granted Chen’s request to be allowed to travel abroad, provided he does not meet with any of his co-defendants, some of whom are expected to be in Taiwan at the same time.

“I am trusting your word that you will come back,” Judge Illston told Chen.

Chen’s attorney assured reporters outside the courtroom that his client fully intends to return as promised. He expressed that Chen is determined to defend himself at the federal criminal trial and clear his name.

The Justice Department says that individuals and companies targeted by its probe into criminal antitrust activities in the LCD industry have already paid more than $890 million in criminal fines. Attorneys for the Justice Department had no comment on the easing of Chen’s travel restrictions.

Other companies indicted for the white collar crime include Sharp Corp., LG Display Co., Ltd., and Chunghwa Picture Tubes, Ltd.

Source: Westlaw News & Insight, “Judge allows AU Optronics chief to leave U.S.,” Dan Levine and Terry Baynes, January 15, 2011