Chinese regulatory authorities have fined e-commerce giant Alibaba 18 billion yuan ($ 2.78 billion) for allegedly violating antitrust rules and abusing its market position.
The sanction, which is equivalent to about 4% of the company’s revenues in 2019, is the largest for antitrust ever imposed in China, within the framework of the intense control undertaken by this country in recent months on large technology companies.
In a statement, the State Administration for Market Regulation (SAMR) states that an investigation launched in December found that Alibaba has been “abusing its dominance of the market” since 2015.
Alibaba, along with Tencent, is one of the Chinese technology giants in the crosshairs of Chinese regulators, which has also been related to the criticism launched last October by its founder, tycoon Jack Ma, against the control system financial country.
In December, SAMR announced the opening of an antitrust investigation on the company and that same month it suspended the planned IPO of Ant, Alibaba’s techno-financial subsidiary, which was to be the largest in history with an expected revenue of 37,000. millions of dollars.
The penalty announced today is more than double the 6.1 billion yuan – the largest fine imposed so far in the country – that the US company Qualcomm, the world’s largest chip supplier, had to pay in 2015.
According to SAMR, Alibaba abused its dominant position to force its suppliers to choose it among other market platforms, thereby violating “both their rights and those of consumers.”
These practices, he says, “violate Chinese antitrust laws by preventing the free movement of goods and infringing the business interests of suppliers.”
In addition, The regulator orders Alibaba to carry out “comprehensive corrections” to reinforce internal compliance and protect consumer rights. “
For its part, Alibaba said in a statement that it “accepts the sanction with sincerity and will ensure its compliance with determination.”
“To serve its responsibility to society, Alibaba will operate in accordance with the law with the utmost diligence, continue to strengthen its compliance systems, and build growth with innovation.” he claimed.
The company founded by Jack Ma has been accused in the past by competitors and sellers of banning their suppliers from signing up for other e-commerce platforms.
A fairly common practice in the sector and one that the regulator warned last February was illegal.
The “People’s Daily”, the official organ of the Communist Party of China (CCP), noted in an editorial today that the severe sanction “does not mean any change in the attitude of the state to support internet platforms.”
“The objective of the fine is to promote a healthy and continuous development of the internet industry in the country,” he says.
(With information from EFE)