Competition authorities in industrialized countries impose sanctions on even companies sharing marketing information with each other, considering it as part of collusion. Even though it is customary in Korea for employees of rival companies to have lunch together, it may be suspected as an act of complicity in Europe and North America.
When it comes to regulation on collusion, the EU requires the world’s highest standards to companies. The EU competition authorities impose a huge amount of penalties for sharing information or one-way provision of marketing data to another company.
For example, the Spanish antitrust agency last year charged 20 automotive firms fines of 171 million euros (US$189 million) for exchanging information such as replacement parts sales and repair and maintenance service strategy.
In the United States, firms are subject to severe punishment for destroying documents as it constitutes obstruction of justice. A Korean company lost a chance to reduce penalties for collusion after it was caught destroying its business documents. Competition law experts advise that firms may be charged with contempt of court if they don’t respect legal procedure.
In developing countries like Southeast Asia, companies must be careful in holding meetings with rival firm officials thinking that penalties in these countries would be minimal. That’s because antitrust authorities in developed countries may find the companies in violation of antitrust laws if the products, even when they were produced in the developing world, were sold in developed country markets.