Luxury carmaker, Mercedes-Benz was fined 350 million yuan (56 million dollars) for price-fixing in a probe of the auto industry in China, regulators announced on Thursday.
The price bureau in the eastern Chinese province of Jiangsu said that Mercedes, owned by Daimler AG, was fined for violating the anti-monopoly law by setting a minimum price that dealers were required to charge.
“Mercedes-Benz China accepts the decision and takes its responsibility in relation to competition law very seriously,” a Daimler spokesman said.
The Chinese government in November fined a joint venture of German auto giant Volkswagen AG and its Chinese partner FAW group nearly 250 million yuan (40 million dollars) for allowing price fixing of Audi vehicles and parts.
Officials have previously denied claims then that probes target foreign-invested firms, while state media said more than 1,000 companies were investigated in the auto market, most of them Chinese.
The government fined 12 Japanese car parts suppliers a total of 1.24 billion yuan (200 million dollars) for price-fixing in October, including Hitachi, Mitsubishi Electric and Sumitomo, reports said.
Setting minimum retail prices is common practice in some countries but Chinese regulators see it as a violation of free market principles, analysts say.