Singapore fines five electronics firms $14.7 million in biggest anti-competition penalty

SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Singapore on Friday fined five electronics parts makers a total of S$19.5 million ($14.7 million) for price-fixing and other cartel activities, the biggest anti-competition penalty in the city-state, the Competition Commission of Singapore (CCS) said.

The firms colluded to fix sales prices of Aluminium Electrolytic Capacitors (AEC) and exchange confidential and sensitive industry information dating back to 1997, the agency said in a statement.

The firms are Panasonic Industrial Devices Singapore and Panasonic Industrial Devices Malaysia, Rubycon Singapore, Singapore Chemi-con (SCC), Nichicon Singapore, and ELNA Electronics.

AECs are electrical parts used in a range of products including computers, car engines and various home appliances. The five firms accounted for more than two-thirds of Singapore’s AEC market share, CCS said.

The close competitors held regular meetings attended by their senior-level employees on a monthly basis up until 2013, the CCS said in the statement.

“The fact that the parties held more than two-thirds of the share of the market for the sale of AECs in Singapore, the long duration of the cartel conduct further contributed to CCS imposing the highest financial penalty to date,” it said.

All the firms except Nichicon applied for leniency and had their fines reduced. Panasonic received total immunity from financial penalties for coming forward, a move that initiated the probe, CCS said.

In July last year, Nichicon pleaded guilty to fixing the prices of electrolytic capacitors sold in the United States and elsewhere and agreed to pay a $42-million fine.

Rubycon and ELNA have also been under investigation for price-fixing for AECs in the United States.

Similar investigations involving AECs are also ongoing in China, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and in the European Union.

Reporting by Fathin Ungku; Editing by Jack Kim and Sunil Nair