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South Korea fines German automakers for colluding to curb emissions cleaning technology

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By Hyunsu Yim

SEOUL (RockedBuzz via Reuters) – South Korea’s antitrust regulator said on Thursday it would impose a combined fine of 42.3 billion won ($33.48 million) on three German automakers for colluding to curb emissions-cleaning technology for their diesel cars.

Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Volkswagen and Audi have been engaged in a collusion that has reduced competition and limited consumer choice, the Korea Fair Trade Commission (KFTC) said in a statement.

Mercedes-Benz was fined 20.7 billion won, BMW 15.7 billion won and Audi 6 billion won, the regulator said, adding that Volkswagen was not fined because it did not earn relevant revenue to the question.

Mercedes-Benz said the company has fully cooperated with the KFTC and “will not have to pay any fines”, citing the outcome of a similar investigation by the European Commission.

“The case concerned the same set of facts that has been the subject of the European Commission’s proceedings and in which Mercedes-Benz acted as a leniency seeker and did not have to pay a fine,” a Mercedes-Benz spokesperson said in a statement. .

“At no time were agreements or exchanges of information on prices, volumes or market sharing part of the investigation,” the spokesman added.

The KFTC declined to comment on Mercedes-Benz’s statement.

BMW, Volkswagen and Audi were not immediately available for comment outside of business hours.

Last year, Mercedes-Benz and its Korean unit were fined 20.2 billion won for misleading advertising related to gas emissions from diesel cars.

The European Commission in 2021 fined Volkswagen and BMW a total of €875 million for colluding to curb the use of emissions cleaning technology they had developed. Mercedes-Benz, then called Daimler, was also part of the cartel but was not fined after revealing its existence.

($1 = 1,263.4200 won)

(Reporting by Hyunsu Yim; Editing by Jamie Freed)

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