By Lee Suh-yoon
The Supreme Court ruled against Hanwha, upholding a decision fining the major conglomerate millions of dollars for its price-rigging practices in the explosives market.
In April 2015, the Fair Trade Commission (FTC) fined the business group 50.9 billion won ($45 million) after finding Hanwha, along with Koryo Nobel Explosives, colluded to fix prices for more than a decade from March 1999 to April 2012, keeping other competitors out of the market. Koryo was fined 12.6 billion won.
In addition, they were referred to state prosecutors for criminal investigation.
The case came to light after a Koryo employee reported the unfair practices and the FTC began an investigation into the matter.
However, Hanwha, which claimed the FTC ignored its cooperation with the probe in its punitive action, filed a law suit against it.
"It appears Hanwha took the lead in divvying up the domestic explosives market with Koryo Nobel Explosives over a long period of time, creating a duopoly," the court said. "The lower courts' rulings are just, meaning the FTC's fine is not excessive."
According to the FTC and prosecutors, Hanwha actively managed a 7-to-3 market duopoly with Koryo Nobel Explosives between 1999 and 2012, using the situation to raise prices on three different occasions.
Hanwha was also charged with trying to bar other businesses from entering the market.
In its court statement, Hanwha claimed the fine was excessive when considering the profits from its price-rigging activities did not amount to "that much."