On 23rd December 2013, the Korean antitrust regulator, the Korea Fair Trade Commission (“KFTC”), imposed fines of 114.6 billion won (approximately US$108 million) on a number of auto parts suppliers, including Japan’s Denso Corporation and Germany’s Bosch and Continental AG. The charges related to the fixing of prices for car instrument panels and wipers, in particular those sold to Hyundai and its affiliate, Kia Motors. The FTC has estimated that price collusion has affected the cost of around 11 million units. The parts in question account for approximately 0.5% of the price of the car.
The largest fine, 63 billion won, was imposed on the Denso Corporation, which was accused of fixing prices between January 2008 and March 2012, initially with Continental AG and then with Bosch. The FTC found that price collusion led to a sharp increase in price estimates provided by the suppliers. Continental AG and Bosch have been fined 46 billion and 5.6 billion won respectively.
Shin Dong-kwon, Head of the Cartel Investigation Bureau at the KFTC, said, “We collaborated with antitrust regulators from the US and the EU to crack down on price collusion among auto parts makers. And we will closely monitor international cartels targeting the Korean market in the future.”
The U.S. Justice Department and antitrust enforcers worldwide have been investigating price-fixing by around 20 companies and 21 executives in the automotive industry. To date, the corporations in question have agreed to pay $1.6 billion in fines.