Chi Mei Optoelectronics, a major LCD maker who sells to companies including Apple, HP and Dell, has admitted to a wide-scale price fixing conspiracy between late 2001 and late 2006. The details are being kept under wraps, but Chi Mei has pled guilty to the charges in a San Francisco court, and in addition to the monetary penalty, nine executives are also under investigation. [FBI]
Why is price fixing bad exactly? If you don't like the price... don't pay it. If the government got out of the business of licensing, regulating, subsidizing competition out of existence such cartels wouldn't last anyway.
Ultimately those screens were Chi Mei Optoelectronics property and they have the right to ask any price they want for them. If the market can't bear that then they'll be out done by the competition or have to lower prices. Fundamentally they are working with those providing similar services to strengthen their position... not any different from labor unions.
The answer to such "problems" is *less* not more economic intervention. Freedom in the market place gives the consumer the upper hand... not the producer. Intervention reverses that.
And obviously paying a fine paid to the government doesn't get any money back to the customers anyway. Name an instance when a government lowered taxes after receiving such a fine?