8 duty-free players in S. Korea fixed exchange rates for 5 years
EIGHT South Korean duty-free operators have colluded to fix foreign exchange rates for the past five years, the nation's antitrust watchdog said on Wednesday.
The Fair Trade Commission added that it issued correction orders to the eight major duty-free shops run by Lotte, Shilla, SK Networks' Walkerhill, Dongwha and the Korea Tourism Organization.
According to the commission, the duty-free shop operators jointly decided the won-dollar exchange rate through phone calls from 2007 to 2012.
The price-fixing ended when Shilla stopped in 2011 and the others followed.
During the investigation, the operators claimed they fixed prices only for convenience as, otherwise, they had to change product prices every day.
They had both losses and gains from the exchange rate fixing during the period, the operators said.
The commission accepted their explanation and issued only correction orders, saying: "Although it is true they fixed prices, the unfair profits they gained were small."
THE KOREA HERALD/ASIA NEWS NETWORK