Russian authorities have filed a case against Apple, claiming the company is responsible for price-fixing. The Federal Anti-monopoly Service(FAS) states that 16 different retailers across the country sold iPhone 6S phones and other phone models at identical or nearly identical prices. The biggest difference in prices was 10 rubles, or about 15¢. Having the same or similar prices isn’t enough to constitute a criminal act, but the FAS claims to have found documents proving that the prices were imposed on retailers by Apple.
So far, none of the evidence against Apple has been revealed to the public, but the FAS told Russian journalists that it has “a lot” of evidence. If found guilty, Apple could be fined up to five million rubles, or about $77,000. Since Apple’s quarterly income is measured in billions of dollars, paying a fine of mere tens of thousands is not likely to seriously hurt the company. At this time only Apple is being charged, and no charges are being brought against the 16 retailers. If Russian authorities change their mind and decide to press charges, the retailers could be fined up to 15% of their income from iPhone sales.
So far, five of the retailers have denied the claims made by the FAS. They state that Apple’s contracts regarding the supply of iPhones contain no requirements or conditions on pricing. Apple itself has denied the claims. In an emailed statement to Reuters the company states, “Resellers set their own prices for the Apple products they sell in Russia and around the world.”
This is not the first time Apple has been accused of price-fixing. Back in 2013, an American court found that Apple played a central role in an ebook price-fixing scheme when it colluded with five publishers to raise the price of ebooks. An appeals court upheld the ruling and the Supreme Court declined to hear the case. As a result, Apple had to pay $450 million.
Do you think Apple is guilt of price-fixing? If so, what would be an appropriate punishment? Leave your comments below.