Russian antitrust regulator finds Apple fixed iPhone prices

Apple's Russian subsidiary has been found to be fixing the prices of certain iPhone models in Russia.

After a seven-month investigation, the Federal Antimonopoly Service (FAS) has found Apple to be fixing the prices of certain iPhone models in Russia, which contravenes article 11, part 5 of the Federal Law on Protection of Competition [PDF].

The Russian antitrust regulator said on Tuesday that Apple's local subsidiary told 16 retailers to maintain the recommended prices of the iPhone 5s, iPhone 5c, iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, iPhone 6s, and iPhone 6s Plus.

The FAS found that Apple Russia monitored the retail prices of these iPhones, and in the event that the company felt the prices were "inappropriate", it would send emails to retailers with a request to change them.

According to the regulator, non-compliance with Apple's pricing guidelines may have led to the termination of agreements between the iPhone maker and retailers. A provision in the contracts allows Apple to terminate agreements without an explanation to retailers, FAS stated.

Andrei Tsarikovsky, the state secretary and deputy head of FAS Russia, said Apple cooperated with the FAS during its investigation, ended its price fixing practices, and has set up antitrust compliance and training protocols to ensure that it operates within the confines of Russia's antimonopoly legislation in the future.

A penalty has not been set, although the Financial Times reported it could be as much as 15 percent of Apple's sales in Russia. The company has three months to appeal the decision once the full ruling is published later in March.

In May last year, Google lost an antimonopoly appeal in Russia after the FAS found Google using its dominant Android position to force its own apps and services on users -- reducing competition. The search giant was fined $6.75 million for preinstalling apps on Android phones.

In November, the FAS launched an investigation into whether Microsoft is abusing its dominance in the antivirus software market, upon receiving a complaint from Moscow-based internet security company Kaspersky Lab.

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