German luxury car maker Audi and Chrysler of the United States have committed "monopoly behaviour" in China and will be punished, the country's regulator said Wednesday, as a probe of foreign auto firms grows.
"It has been found out that the two companies did have monopoly behaviour and they will be punished accordingly in the near future," said Li Pumin, spokesman for the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC).
The statement did not clarify what was meant by "monopoly behaviour", but the investigations are taking place as regulators show concern over what they view as unfairly high prices for both parts and vehicles in China, the world's largest car market.
Audi is the luxury car unit of Volkswagen, Europe's biggest auto group, while Chrysler has merged with Italy's Fiat.
Li also confirmed an investigation of Mercedes-Benz, a brand of Germany's Daimler, according to a transcript of a press conference posted online, following a raid at a Mercedes office in Shanghai on Monday.
Daimler said on Tuesday that it was "assisting" in the investigation.
Beijing imposes heavy duties on imported cars and parts, which manufacturers say ramp up prices for Chinese consumers.
The NDRC spokesman said the anti-monopoly investigations started at the end of 2011, but analysts say China has recently escalated the issue.
The Shanghai branch of the NDRC is investigating Chrysler, while the central province of Hubei is inspecting Audi, and both probes were almost complete, Li said.
The NDRC is one of several Chinese government bodies that investigates violations of the country's "anti-monopoly" law. It is responsible for doing so from a pricing perspective.
On Sunday, Daimler announced it would slash prices of more than 10,000 spare parts for its Mercedes-Benz cars in China from September 1, according to a separate statement that linked the move to a pricing and "anti-monopoly" investigation of the entire auto industry in China.