A Chinese regulator imposed hefty fines on foreign automobile manufacturers Audi and Chrysler on Thursday after they were found guilty of violating the country’s anti-monopoly laws in August, according to media reports.
The Chinese government, imposing a fine of $40.5 million on Volkswagen’s Audi AG (ETR:NSU) and $5.2 million on Fiat’s Chrysler, reportedly said that the two companies had violated the law by fixing the prices of vehicles and spare parts with dealers.
The penalty has raised the possibility of similar fines being levied on other automobile manufacturers such as Daimler AG (OTCMKTS:DDAIF) unit Mercedes-Benz and Tata Motors Ltd. unit (NYSE:TTM) Jaguar Land Rover, which have also been found guilty of indulging in anti-competitive behavior in the country.
In addition, the National Development and Reform Commission, or NDRC, which is heading the probe against the automobile companies, also fined three Chrysler dealerships and eight Audi dealerships after they were found complicit in fixing the prices of spare parts.
“We accept the penalty and we have been optimizing the management processes and sales and dealership structure,” an Audi spokesperson told the Financial Times. A Chrysler spokesperson also told The Wall Street Journal that the company “respects and accepts the final ruling.”
Since the beginning of the year, Chinese regulators have launched a series of investigations targeting foreign car manufacturers, including Mercedes, BMW (ETR:BMW), Chrysler, Audi and Tata Motors. Chinese authorities have alleged that these companies had violated the 2008 Anti-Monopoly Law.
Addressing allegations that China was deliberately targeting foreign companies, Xu Kunlin, a senior official at NDRC, reportedly said: “We do not select which companies to look into -- the consumers do the selecting. We investigate the companies where we receive well-grounded complaints.”