SEJONG, Sept. 13 (Yonhap) -- The head of South Korea's antitrust watchdog said Friday that he will push to toughen penalties for unfair business activities as part of efforts to enforce fair market principles.
The remarks by Noh Dae-lae, head of the Fair Trade Commission (FTC), came amid criticism that the penalty recently slapped on a traditional alcoholic beverage maker was too lenient given its violation of the country's fair trade law.
"We will revise penalty-related regulations within this year and enforce them starting next year," Noh said during a meeting with lawmakers. "We will change the regulations in a way that could toughen punishment on similar future cases."
On Thursday, the FTC fined Baesangmyun Brewery Co. 9 million won (US$8,300) for abusing its market power to arm-twist wholesale stores into taking more products than they needed to lighten its inventory.
The FTC explained that it decided to reduce its original amount of fines significantly in consideration of involved sales and the fact that the company had fully cooperated with its investigation.
The watchdog added that it also took into consideration that the company has posted a loss for the recent consecutive years.
But it prompted criticism that the government was too lenient in meting out punishment on such cases in which industry giants abuse their power to maximize profits at the expense of smaller companies.
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