Four Chinese dealers of German automaker BMW have been fined about 1. 6 million yuan ($A280,000), authorities have said, as the government steps up a high-profile anti-monopoly campaign involving a number of foreign brands.
The dealers had agreed to consistently charge a fee for the pre-delivery inspection of cars, which falls under "the obligations and responsibilities" of the auto maker and its dealers, the statement said. "This is price swindling behaviour and must be resolutely stopped immediately," the authorities said.
The dealers in Wuhan in the central province of Hubei have been ordered to pay the penalties for "forming a price alliance", provincial authorities said this week.
China has in recent months launched high-profile probes into alleged violations by a host of foreign firms in a range of different sectors including pharmaceuticals, technology and baby milk, raising fears that overseas companies are being targeted.
The Hubei authorities also said in the statement they were working on the penalties to be meted to manufacturers and dealers of other auto brands including Audi.
The European Union Chamber of Commerce in China expressed concern that European businesses were "increasingly considering the question of whether foreign companies are being disproportionately targeted".
Auto firms are the latest to be investigated, and last week the government pledged to sanction Audi, owned by Volkswagen, and Chrysler of the US, now part of Italy's Fiat group, without stating what penalties they would receive.
Read more here: Business Spectator