SEOUL, Feb 9 (Reuters) – South Korea’s anti-trust regulator said on Thursday it would impose a combined fine of 42.3 billion won ($33.48 million) on three German automakers for colluding to curb emissions-cleaning technology for their diesel cars.
Mercedes-Benz (MBGn.DE), BMW (BMWG.DE), Volkswagen (VOWG_p.DE) and Audi were involved in collusion that reduced competition and restricted consumer choice, the Korea Fair Trade Commission (KFTC) said in a statement.
Mercedes-Benz was fined 20.7 billion won, BMW 15.7 billion won and Audi 6 billion won, the regulator said, adding that Volkswagen was not fined because it did not earn revenue relevant to the issue.
Mercedes-Benz said the company had cooperated fully with the KFTC and “will not have to pay any fine,” citing the outcome of a similar probe by the European Commission.
“The case related to the same set of facts which has been subject to the European Commission’s proceedings and where Mercedes-Benz acted as a leniency applicant and did not have to pay a fine,” a Mercedes-Benz spokesperson said in a statement.
View 2 more stories
“At no point were agreements or an exchange of information on prices, volumes or market sharing part of the investigation,” the spokesperson added.
The KFTC declined to comment on Mercedes-Benz’s statement.
BMW, Volkswagen and Audi were not immediately available for comment outside business hours.
Last year, Mercedes-Benz and its Korean unit were fined 20.2 billion won for false advertising tied to gas emissions of diesel passenger vehicles.
The European Commission in 2021 fined Volkswagen and BMW a total of 875 million euros for colluding to curb the use of emissions-cleaning technology they had developed. Mercedes-Benz, then called Daimler, was also part of the cartel but not fined after revealing its existence.
($1 = 1,263.4200 won)
Reporting by Hyunsu Yim; Editing by Jamie Freed
Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.