A Chinese pricing regulator imposed a 350 million yuan ($56 million) fine on Daimler’s premium car unit Mercedes-Benz on Thursday for allegedly fixing the retail prices charged by downstream dealers and service providers.
The fine was ordered by Jiangsu Provincial Bureau of Commodity Prices, which charged the German automaker for pressurizing dealers to set minimum sales prices on some its cars as well as some spare parts, Reuters reported. Mercedes-Benz had reportedly also sent warnings to those dealers who did not comply with the company's demands.
“The investigation found Mercedes-Benz and its dealers in Jiangsu came to and carried out monopoly agreements to cap the lowest sales prices of E-Class, S-Class models and certain spare parts,” the Chinese regulator said in a statement, obtained by Reuters.
The anti-trust investigators accused Mercedes-Benz of either meeting with its dealers to control prices, or directly telling them about quoted prices, in an effort to dominate the market between January 2013 and July 2014, China’s Xinhua reported, adding that some dealers of the luxury carmaker in China were also fined 7.7 million yuan.
“Mercedes-Benz China accepts the decision and takes its responsibilities under competition law very seriously,” Daimler said in a statement, according to the Financial Times. “We have taken all appropriate steps to ensure to fully comply with the law.”
In China, the world’s largest car market, foreign automakers have been under scrutiny for allegedly resorting to unfair practices to reap high profits by overcharging customers. In 2014, Chinese regulators had fined local units of Volkswagen and Fiat Chrysler a combined $46 million for price-fixing, the BBC reported.