(LEAD) Naver indicted for allegedly violating fair trade law
(ATTN: ADDS Naver's comments in last 3 paras)
SEOUL, Sept. 8 (Yonhap) -- Internet portal giant Naver Corp. was indicted Thursday for allegedly violating fair trade law by abusing its market dominant position in dealing with a real estate market information partner.
The Seoul Central District Prosecutors Office charged Naver over allegations that it blocked the unspecified market information provider from selling data to Kakao Corp., Naver's main rival, between May 2015 and September 2017.
The case was launched following a criminal complaint filed by the Fair Trade Commission (FTC), the country's antitrust regulator, in November of last year at the request of the Ministry of SMEs and Startups.
The FTC in December 2020 issued Naver a 1 billion-won (US$767,000) fine after concluding the internet portal giant had signed the deal with the market data company under the condition that it does not provide Kakao with market data.
The SME ministry asked the FTC to pursue a criminal investigation after assessing that Naver caused damage to the company by blocking its potential dealings with Kakao.
Last month, prosecutors also raided the company's headquarters in Seongnam, south of Seoul.
In a statement, Naver said it will pursue a legal fight with the prosecution over the indictment.
Naver said it had spent tens of billions of won to compile the real estate market data to prevent consumers from being exploited by false information.
Banning the information provider from selling the data to Kakao was a "legitimate defense measure to prevent a free ride by another company on Naver's rights," the company said.
Major N. Korean websites offline as of Tuesday morning
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