China levies record $200M fine on Japanese auto parts makers

China on Wednesday confirmed that it slapped 10 Japanese auto parts manufacturers with a record $200 million (Rmb1.24bn) combined fine after the manufacturers were found guilty of price fixing.

According to a statement by the National Development & Reform Commission (NDRC), Sumitomo Electric, Jtekt, Denso, Asian Industry, NSK, Mitsubishi, Mitsuba, Furukawa, and NTN Corp were found guilty of involving in the illegal practice of price fixing.

The biggest individual fine, of Rmb290.4 million, was slapped on Sumitomo Electric. The amount of fine is equivalent to 6 per cent of the company's annual China revenues.

Two other Japanese manufacturers, viz. Hitachi Ltd and Nachi-Fujikoshi were also found guilty of price-fixing but the authorities exempted these firms from monetary penalties for their cooperation in the investigation.

The penalties prompted many to accuse NDRC of targeting foreign firms, but NDRC Secretary General Li Pumin refuted the accusation, saying everyone was equal before China's law.

Refuting the accusation, Pumin said, "Everyone is equal before the law. No matter whether they are domestic or foreign-funded firms, they will be punished if they violate the law."

The combined fine of $200 million on auto parts manufacturers is the biggest antitrust fine doled out by China since relevant rules took effect nearly six years ago.