Korean companies have been fined a total of 2.4 trillion won ($2.1 billion) abroad for engaging in international cartel activities, the country's corporate regulator said Tuesday.
The Fair Trade Commission (FTC) said the total represents all fines levied since 1996, but pointed out most were slapped in the last five years, when local companies started to make noticeable inroads in the global business arena.
The United States led the pack in taking action against South Korean companies for price rigging and market distorting mergers and acquisitions (M&As) by ordering fines reaching 1.7 trillion won, it said. The EU and Japan levied fines worth 700 billion won and 21 billion won, respectively, against local companies.
Washington has traditionally used anti-trust rules to protect its consumers and companies from unfair practices with this trend spreading to European countries from 1980 onwards. At present, the rules apply broadly to collusion and business activities, such as M&As, that adversely affect consumer rights.
The FTC said that with more and more countries like China taking steps to deal with international cartels, there is a need for local businesses to be aware of the risks.
The local anti-trust watchdog said if a company is found to have engaged in cartel activities, it could be fined the whole of its unfair gains as well as be slapped with hefty fines, which could seriously weaken its business operations and consumer image. (Yonhap)