Korea’s antitrust regulator said Thursday it has decided to impose a combined fine of 256.5 billion won ($197.5 million) on the country’s No. 2 steelmaker, Hyundai Steel, and 10 other firms for fixing bidding prices.
Hyundai Steel, Dongkuk Steel Mill and nine others colluded to fix their quotations between 2012 and 2018 to bid on rebar contracts put forward by the state procurement agency, according to the Korea Fair Trade Commission (KFTC). The violations to the country’s antitrust laws could bring severe fines on the companies, as well as criminal prosecution of individuals directly responsible for crafting, implementing, or enforcing the agreement.
Read More: South Korea Fines 7 Local Steelmakers For Collusion
The price collusion helped the colluding companies post a combined revenue of 5.5 trillion won during the cited period, a significant profit that represents losses for consumers who covered the excessive prices. In response, the KFTC said it will closely monitor possible price-fixing practices in the raw materials and intermediary goods market, and take stern actions against anti-competition activities.
The commission was able to take stern actions against the steelmakers’ cartel thanks to information provided by a whistleblower, who provided detailed evidence about their price collusion. The informant received a reward of 1.75 billion won (US$1.5 million) last year, as the KFTC continues to promote the importance of informants to break down cases of collusion.
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