(ATTN: UPDATES with more details in paras 3, 6)
SEOUL, Jan. 26 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's antitrust regulator said Tuesday it has decided to fine seven steelmakers a combined 300 billion won (US$272 million) for colluding to fix the purchase price of steel scrap.
The country's No. 2 steelmaker Hyundai Steel Co., its smaller rival Dongkuk Steel Mill Co. and five other steelmakers rigged prices and timing to buy the key material between 2010 and 2018, according to the Korea Fair Trade Commission (KFTC).
It marked the fourth-largest amount of fines levied by the regulator so far over price collusion.
As supply in the local steel scrap market chronically falls short of demand, the steelmakers colluded to stably secure the material and stabilize the purchase price, hampering market competition, according to the corporate watchdog.
Hyundai Steel is expected to be levied with the highest fine of 90.9 billion won, followed by Dongkuk Steel with 49.9 billion won, the KFTC said.
The regulator said it will hold a separate session to review whether to file complaints with the prosecution over the collusion.
The affected steelmakers said they plan to lodge an administrative suit against the decision, saying that the amount of the fines appears excessive.
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