China fines Mercedes US$56.5 million for price fixing

China fines Mercedes US$56.5 million for price fixing
A Mercedes Benz C class model flanks other cars in the company's lineup while on display.

SHANGHAI - A local pricing regulator in China said on Thursday it has fined Daimler AG's Mercedes-Benz 350 million yuan ($56.49 million) for price fixing.

The regulator said the luxury German carmaker had "pressured" dealers to set minimum sales prices on some of its cars and spare parts, and given "warnings" to dealers who did not comply.

China has been clamping down on the auto sector, punishing foreign carmakers for price fixing for the first time last year when it fined the Chinese venture of Volkswagen AG and a sales unit of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV a combined $46 million.

"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 Jiangsu pricing regulator said in a statement.

China-based Daimler spokesman Senol Bayrak declined to provide an immediate comment.

The Jiangsu pricing bureau said the German carmaker had "violated" anti-monopoly law, damaging fair market competition and harming consumer rights.

The Jiangsu pricing regulator said it had also fined some dealers of the luxury carmaker 7.7 million yuan.

Last year, Mercedes-Benz was found guilty of manipulating prices for after-sales services in China, the official Xinhua news agency reported in August. Xinhua made no mention of possible penalties at the time.

In 2013, China fined six milk powder firms a total of $110 million for price fixing and anti-competitive practices.

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