The regulatory authority names the “abuse of the dominant market position” of the e-commerce giant as the reason for the record fine

Chinese regulators imposed a record $ 2.78 billion fine on Alibaba Group, completing a month-long investigation into the domestic e-commerce giant’s dealings and problems with the government that raised questions about the future of billionaire founder Jack Ma’s .

The State Administration for Market Regulation (SAMR) announced an antitrust investigation in December after suspending a record $ 37 billion IPO of Ant Group, the group’s financial payments arm, at the last minute.

The suspension followed sharp comments from Mr. Ma criticizing China’s financial system and a wider tug-of-war with authorities over Alibaba’s collection of consumer data, which regulators believed gave it an unfair advantage over its competitors.

On Saturday, the SAMR said it had fined the Alibaba Group 18.23 billion yuan ($ 2.78 billion) for “indulging in a monopoly of abuse of its dominant position,” the company said state broadcaster China Global Television Network (CGTN).

The SAMR notice “ordered the group to cease illegal activities and fined its domestic sales of 455.71 billion yuan ($ 69.57 billion) in 2019 for a total of 18.23 billion yuan ($ 69.57 billion) in 2019 , $ 78 billion), “reported CGTN, adding that the regulator” concluded from a four-month investigation that Alibaba had been abusing its dominance since 2015 by banning merchants from opening stores or participating in promotional activities on others To participate in competitive platforms. “

Alibaba’s “one of two” requirements, requiring users of the platform not to use the services of competing merchants, “harmed the interests of consumers,” said the SAMR, adding that the policy would “reduce competition in China Service market hampered with online retail platforms ”. , hinders the free movement of goods, services and resources and violates the legitimate rights and interests of traders on the platform as well as the interests of consumers. “

The SAMR said the group had “abused its dominant position” and “also used market forces, platform rules, data, algorithms and other technical means to ensure the implementation of the exclusive trade agreement”.

The company said in a statement that it “will accept the punishment with sincerity and will ensure that it adheres to the resolution”. Mr. Ma held back, despite the company saying it would cooperate fully with the authorities in conducting the investigation.