South Korea's antitrust watchdog said Sunday its collection of fines from companies for price-fixing schemes hit a record high in 2012.
The Fair Trade Commission (FTC) said in a report to the National Assembly that it collected 916.2 billion won (US$855 million) last year, compared with 349.1 billion won in 2011.
The hike came as the watchdog collected unexpected large fines from violators. The FTC said it collected a combined 235.7 billion won last year from instant noodle makers and construction companies for colluding to fix prices.
Recently, the FTC has decided to fine seven truck manufacturers a combined 116 billion won for colluding to fix prices.
The companies include Hyundai Motor and Scania Korea, which were ordered to pay 71.7 billion won and 17.6 billion won, respectively, according to the FTC.
Still, the watchdog's collection of fines could fall this year as it failed to prevail in court in several high-profile cases involving big companies over their alleged price rigging.
In May, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of Daewoo Engineering & Construction Co. after the builder challenged a fine of 6.2 billion won imposed by the FTC.
The builder had complained that it was forced to pay the money because the FTC did not recognize its leniency clause that absolves a company engaged in illegal price fixing of paying any fines, if it is the first one to report the crime to authorities.
In 2011, the FTC slapped fines on insurance companies over their alleged conspiracies to fix prices, but the Seoul High Court ruled in favor of the insurance companies in July, citing lack of evidence.
The FTC is required to return more than 50 billion won to insurance companies if the Supreme Court upholds the decision by the high court.