Nongshim challenges anti-trust watchdog
Nongshim, the nation’s top instant noodle manufacturer, said Wednesday that it will pursue legal action against the Fair Trade Commission (FTC) in protest of penalties the anti-trust watchdog issued earlier this year against companies involved in price fixing.
In March, the FTC fined Nongshim and three other noodle makers 135.4 billion won ($120 million) for colluding to fix prices.
“Ever since the regulator fined us, we have prepared for legal action against it as we were not engaged in any activities of collusion for price-fixing, and there was no reason for that,” a Nongshim spokesman said.
He said they received a final resolution on the sanction from the FTC Monday and now have 30 days to raise an objection to the decision. “We have decided to soon file a complaint with the court.”
Last March, the regulator said that Nongshim, Samyang, Ottogi and Korea Yakult sought to rig prices on six different occasions between 2001 and 2010.
"They exchanged detailed information on planned price hikes so others could take similar action," the FTC said. "Such practices resulted in the prices of locally made noodle products going up at roughly the same time, preventing open market competition and hurting consumer rights."
Nongshim, which allegedly played a key role, was initially fined 107.7 billion won, followed by Samyang with 11.6 billion won. Ottogi and Korea Yakult were given fines of around 9.7 billion won and 6.3 billion won respectively.
The anti-trust regulator also ordered the companies not to share corporate information in the future.
But in the final resolution, Nongshim has been ordered to pay 300 million won more in addition to the initial penalty with Samyang hit with an additional 400 million won fine.
But Samyang was exempted from paying the final resolution fine thanks to the FTC’s leniency program because the firm voluntarily reported its involvement in the price-fixing collusion. It is the first time a firm has been exempted from a fine through this program.