15 chicken-processing firms fined 176 bln won for price fixing

SEOUL-- South Korea's antitrust regulator said Wednesday it has decided to impose a combined fine of 175.8 billion won (US$141.4 million) on 15 poultry-processing companies for colluding to fix prices.

Sixteen companies, including industry leader Harim Co. and Orpum Co., colluded to fix prices and supplies of chickens on 45 occasions between November 2005 and July 2017, according to the Fair Trade Commission (FTC).

The companies held a combined share of more than 77 percent in the market and their 12-year-long price fixing led to a hike in prices of chickens.

Of the 16 firms, the FTC has decided to fine 15 firms as one company has applied for a court receivership.

Harim will be tentatively slapped with the largest fine of 40.6 billion won, followed by 25.6 billion won for Orpum and 25 billion won for Maniker Co.

The commission also plans to file a complaint with the prosecution against five firms, including Orpum and HanGang Food Co.

The FTC said it will take stern actions with a zero tolerance stance against companies whose price collusion sparks a rise in prices of items closely related to people's lives.

Seven chicken-processing firms, including Harim and Orpum, were also slapped with 25.1 billion won in fines in October last year for price fixing of chickens used for "samgyetang," Korean ginseng chicken soup.

Source: Yonhap News Agency