The new head of South Korea’s Fair Trade Commission (FTC) plans to delve deeper into Apple’s dealings in the country, extending a probe into whether it abused its market power in dealings with mobile operators.
BusinessKorea reported Cho Sung-wook made the Apple investigation a priority during her first meeting with commissioners, which took place on 25 September. The focus is on whether the US tech giant used its heft to force operators to pay for its advertising and cover warranty fees.
“The FTC promotes market competition for free and creative business activities and is responsible for achieving a fair economy”, Cho told the news site.
She added the commission treats all businesses equally regardless of their size or country of origin, pledging to make a decision in the Apple case “based on legal and objective data”.
BusinessKorea stated the FTC has the option to issue a heavy financial penalty on Apple if the investigation finds it engaged in unfair trading practices.
In April 2018, the trade regulator said it would penalise Apple for forcing operators to cover the cost of iPhone advertising and repairs, following a two-year investigation into the company’s practices. Apple Korea subsequently pushed the FTC to agree to a consent decree to end the legal dispute, though a decision on this is yet to be made.
If the FTC accepts Apple’s offer, the vendor would have to accept the agency’s proposed measures to restore competition, “improve trading practices”, and correct or prevent “damages to consumers and other business entities”. In the event a deal isn’t agreed, the FTC investigation will continue.
An FTC official told BusinessKorea the commissioners “cannot disclose detailed corrective measures presented by Apple”.