The Trade Competition Board (TCB) yesterday agreed to press its unfair-trade charges against AP Honda, the local distributor of Honda motorcycles, saying the case now hinges on prosecutors.
Commerce Minister Boonsong Teriyapirom said additional inquiries and investigation results about the charges as required by the Attorney-General's Office are complete and the board sees fit to forward unfair trade charges against AP Honda before the statute of limitations expires in April.
The case, based on distributors' complaints, dates back to 2003, when the TCB ruled that AP Honda had violated Section 29 of the Trade Competition Act by indirectly forcing its agents to distribute only Honda motorcycles.
AP Honda, which had a 70% market share, tended to block agents from selling other brands, distributors said. The TCB sent its findings to court, but prosecutors declined to press the case and asked for more information.
The Act prohibits business operators from engaging in unfair practices that destroy, damage, block or limit the operations of rivals or force rivals to give up their business. Violations are punishable by a jail term for the authorised managing director of up to three years and/or a fine of up to 6 million baht.
If the attorney-general finds AP Honda in breach of the Act, the company will be subject to the stated penalties.
Santichai Santawanpas, deputy director-general of the Foreign Trade Department, said the ministry would accelerate submitting the case to the Attorney-General's Office next week.
"Now it's up to the prosecutors whether to submit the case to the attorney-general," he said.
Mr Santichai said the evidence shows that the Japanese motorcycle firm's practices violated Section 29 of the Act.
He said if prosecutors decline to pursue charges, the ministry may need to revise and amend the Trade Competition Act to ensure real enforcement, especially with regard to the time frame for investigations and the statute of limitations.
About the author
- Writer: Phusadee Arunmas
Position: Business Reporter