South Korea's antitrust watchdog is investigating Japanese and German bearing producers on suspicions that they have colluded in fixing prices of parts being supplied to local manufacturers, a government source said Thursday.
The companies under investigation include Japanese bearing makers such as NSK, JTEKT, NTN and MINEBEA and Germany's Schaeffler, he added.
"We have sent our investigation reports to each suspected company, which will later submit its own response to us," a Fair Trade Commission official told Yonhap News Agency on condition of anonymity. "Based on the results, we will convene a meeting to determine illegality and the level of punishment."
A local media report earlier said that those companies have supplied bearings at rigged prices for more than a decade to local manufacturers including Samsung Electronics and POSCO.
Involved sales could exceed 1 trillion won ($979.4 million), the report said, citing industry and government sources. If the charges prove to be true, they could be fined about 100 billion won, it added.
The FTC official said that it is too early to talk about punishment. He said that it would take some time to review their response to the charges and hold a meeting to determine their involvement in price rigging and then possibly the level of punishment. (Yonhap)