Audi faces $292m antitrust fine: report [China Daily: Hong Kong Edition]
(China Daily: Hong Kong Edition Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Visitors walk at Audi's exhibition booth at Auto China 2014 in Beijing on April 20, 2014. [Photo/Agencies]
Automaker FAW-Volkswagen's Audi division in China faces a potential fine of 1.8 billion yuan ($292 million) by China's antitrust regulators over allegations of monopolistic practices, the Economic Observer Online (EEO) reported on Tuesday.
The possible fine on Audi comes after high-profile investigations into the China's automotive industry. Audi announced earlier this month it would cut spare-parts prices in China after the company was initially investigated by regulators.
EEO reported the punishment is equivalent to 1 percent of the company's total sales in 2013. If the numbers are correct, this is the minimum fine the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) can hand down.
China's Anti-Monopoly Law stipulates that violators can be fined anywhere from 1 percent to 10 percent of their total sales revenue of the previous year.
"Last year, Audi sold a total of 488,488 vehicles in China," an unnamed Audi source was quoted as saying by EEO. "The revenue from 2013 totaled around 195 billion yuan ($32.2 billion)."
In addition, EEO reported 11 Audi dealers in Central China's Hubei province will be fined 6 million to 50 million yuan.
The fine on Audi, possibly at 1.8 billion yuan, could be China's largest anti-monopoly fine ever. The NDRC last year fined six infant milk powder companies a total of 670 million yuan ($110 million).
Audi was not immediately available for comment. China Daily could not independently verify EEO's article.
Passed into law in 2006, the Anti-Monopoly Law gives regulators, NDRC, the Ministry of Commerce and the State Administration for Industry and Commerce a leading role in investigating companies.
Earlier this month, the NDRC opened investigations into 12 Japanese auto companies for suspected price manipulation. The NDRC also opened probes into US carmaker Chrysler and German carmaker Mercedes-Benz.
The NDRC posted on its website on Aug 9 that the current probes reach across all companies operating in China.
A team from the State Administration for Industry and Commerce visited consultancy firm Accenture's offices in Dalian on Aug 6, following a visit to US software giant Microsoft's operations within China.
Last year, the NDRC fined two Chinese State-owned liquor companies, Wuliangye Yibin Group and Kweichow Moutai over price-fixing practices.
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