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Hitachi-LG venture executives face jail time

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Three executives in a joint venture of Hitachi Ltd <6501.T> and LG Electronics <066570.KS> have agreed to plead guilty and serve several months in prison for conspiring to fix the prices of optical disk drives, the Justice Department said on Tuesday.

The joint venture itself pleaded guilty in early November to 15 criminal counts in connection with a long running probe of price fixing in the sale of optical disk drives like CD-ROMs.

Hitachi-LG Data Storage Inc is the first company charged by U.S. prosecutors in the investigation.

Young Keun Park, formerly the venture's chief marketing officer; and Sang Hun Kim and Sik Hur, both team leaders, had been accused of rigging bids or fixing prices for optical disk drives for Dell , Hewlett-Packard and Microsoft .

Under the plea agreement, Park and Kim will serve eight months in prison and Hur seven months. Each has also agreed to pay a $25,000 fine. Park, Kim and Hur could not be located immediately for comment.

"The division will continue to pursue and prosecute those who participate in bid-rigging and price-fixing conspiracies that harm businesses and consumers in the optical disk drive industry," said Sharis Pozen, acting head of the Justice Department's Antitrust Division.

The plea agreements are subject to court approval.

(Reporting by Diane Bartz; editing by Carol Bishopric)

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