On January 9, 2012, in San Francisco, AU Optronics Corporation begins trial in the case brought against it, its subsidiary AUO America and five of its current and former executives by the United States Department of Justice ("DOJ"). Despite the huge fines sought by the DOJ, AUO continues to fight the case because it is the right thing to do as it wishes that the real facts be presented through trial. The Company believes that the allegations made by the DOJ and the large fines the DOJ seeks to obtain are not warranted by the law and facts, and the Company believes the executives who have been charged are innocent of the charges. The Company continues to fight because it believes in the integrity of those who have worked tirelessly to make the company what it is. If a company, for expediency reasons, chooses to plead guilty and requires its executives to cooperate with the plea and serve prison terms, not only would it fail to protect the shareholders’ and investors’ interests, but it would also mean rejecting the diligence and hard work of all those who built the company, and instead to cast aspersions on their character and conduct in building the company, which goes against AUO’s core value. This, AUO will not do.
The story of AUO is very much the story of Taiwan itself. The growth of AUO was filled with competition and challenges. When AUO entered this industry more than a decade ago, the Company knew that the international competitors were dominant, and had been in the business for years. Despite the odds, AUO took on the challenge and has fully and fiercely competed with its rivals. The Company did not, as the DOJ alleges, fix prices with its competitors to get to where it is now. AUO competed with others through its innovation, hard work and the efficiency of its employees to gradually become a global leader in the TFT-LCD industry.
Doing the right thing, however, is not always the easiest thing. The executives have paid a high price for their stance. In 2010, after the indictments were finally issued, and although the executives appeared in court voluntarily, they were accused by the DOJ of being “flight risks” merely because there was no extradition treaty between the US and Taiwan. The executives were forced to stay in the United States. The executives then tried as best as they could to maintain their obligations to the Company, their peers, co-workers, employees, and most importantly, their families thousands of miles from home. Some had elderly parents in failing health who they could not see and could not take care of in their twilight years. Others had young children who they could not see grow up, and could only communicate with on the phone or on-line. Professionally, the executives had to try to do their job based thousands of miles away without the ability to interact with others face-to-face.
The easy route would have been to plead, but pleading would have meant sacrificing core values and admitting to something that was not true. During trial, AUO is confident that the facts will come out related to how competitive the TFT-LCD business has been; how competition in the industry has been fierce, driving many companies to abandon the business and leaving only those who are the most efficient and with the lowest cost; and most importantly, how the fierce competition drove the price for panels down lower and lower, making products from monitors to notebooks to flat screen televisions more affordable for everyone.
AUO and its executives have made many sacrifices in the past years. The sacrifices have been made to protect the interest of its shareholders and investors, to guard the core value of the Company and to seek justice, and because, while others may have forgotten, AUO still remembers the story of how it fiercely competed with its rivals in the TFT-LCD industry.
The Company will continue to evaluate and take appropriate actions in the interest of the Company regarding antitrust related matters.