SEJONG-- South Korea's corporate watchdog said Wednesday that it has slapped a combined 2.2 billion won (US$1.94 million) in fines on six local department stores for abusing their power to control their subcontractors.

The companies -- Shinsegae Department Store, Lotte Department Store, Hyundai Department Store, Hanwha Galleria, NC Department Store and AK Plaza -- were accused of refusing to give back written contracts to their suppliers, or forcing the suppliers to pay for interior remodeling, according to the Fair Trade Commission (FTC).

The big retailers also allegedly raised commission fees during the contract term unilaterally and demanded detailed management information of their suppliers, which is against the law, the FTC added.

"The FTC will tighten monitoring of such unfair business practices by big-name companies," the watchdog said.

Source: Yonhap News Agency