US investigators probe Mitsubishi Electric on chip volume

US government antitrust investigators have requested details of memory chip sales of Japanese electronics maker Mitsubishi Electric as part of a wider investigation, an AFP report said.

The report said Mitsubishi confirmed that the US Department of Justice's antitrust division had asked for documents and other information related to sales of DRAM chips in the US from 1998 to 2002.

The group said civil antitrust lawsuits had also been filed against several companies in the DRAM industry, including Mitsubishi Electric, and some of its subsidiaries, according to the report.

Four companies had already been charged and fined, following a US Justice Department probe into an alleged conspiracy between companies to fix the prices of DRAM chips, the report said.

In October 2004, German manufacturer Infineon pleaded guilty and was fined $160 million. Hynix pleaded guilty and was hit with a $185-million fine in May 2005, the report said.

Fellow South Korean group Samsung Electronics, the world's largest DRAM manufacturer, pleaded guilty to the price-fixing conspiracy and was given a $300-million fine in November 2005, the report further said.