China price regulator fines Volkswagen and Chrysler for price monopoly

By Reuters

Sep 11, 2014 05:41 AM EDT

China's anti-monopoly regulator on Thursday announced its first-ever punishment of foreign carmakers for price-fixing, fining Volkswagen AG and Fiat's Chrysler a combined $46 million.

The penalty raised the possibility of similar fines being levied against other global players such Daimler's Mercedes-Benz and Tata Motor Ltd's Jaguar Land Rover, which are being probed for possible anti-competitive behaviour.

The Shanghai branch of the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) said in a statement it would fine Chrysler's China sales unit 32 million yuan ($5.22 mln) for operating a price monopoly.

The price regulator in Hubei province announced it would fine the sales unit of FAW-Volkswagen Automobile Co Ltd, one of Volkswagen's two China car making ventures, 249 million yuan for price-fixing at its Audi sales unit.

Three Chrysler dealers in Shanghai and eight Audi dealers in Hubei would also be fined, the regulators said.

Punishment for Chrysler and Audi has been widely expected as the NDRC has previously said it had concluded the two carmakers had broken the anti-monopoly law.

Audi had already admitted "partially" breaching the rules.

Officials at Chrysler in China could not be reached for comment. A spokesman at Audi in China said the company was preparing a statement.

An array of industries have been coming under the spotlight as China intensifies efforts to bring companies into compliance with its anti-monopoly law enacted in 2008.

Last month, China fined 12 Japanese auto parts makers a record 1.235 billion yuan for manipulating prices.

The auto sector has been under particular scrutiny, and the NDRC has been investigating the industry amid accusations by state media that global car makers are overcharging consumers.

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