In mid-August, it was reported in the press(1) that the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) had received complaints that the commercial banks in China have engaged in price-fixing conduct. Pursuant to the Anti-Monopoly Law, conduct amounting to price-fixing is prohibited.
The following are some details of what has been alleged:
- several commercial banks have come together and agreed to raise various fees and charges to similar amounts (including bill printing fees, small account management fees and inter-bank ATM fees);
- it was alleged that this collusive conduct was facilitated by meetings hosted by the China Banking Association between 2005 and 2010.
It remains to be seen if the NDRC will formally launch an investigation into this issue. We note that currently the China Banking Regulatory Commission (CBRC) and the NDRC are putting together rules which would regulate the service fees of commercial banks (entitled “Interim Measures on the Administration of Service Fees of Commercial Banks) (service fee rules). These service fee rules, once enacted, will no doubt provide clearer guidance in relation to what conduct is permitted, both pursuant to the proposed rules as well as pursuant to the AML.