China: executives at VW joint venture under investigation image

China’s concerted antitrust fight took another turn this week: after probing the carmakers and issuing fines, the investigations are now down to the executive level.

According to an announcement posted on the website of the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection of the Communist Party of China, the country’s corruption watchdog, one former and another current executive at VW’s local joint venture – FAW-Volkswagen Automotive – are now probed for “seriously violating the law.”

The two executives were also identified: former deputy general manager Li Wu and Zhou Chun, currently the deputy general manager of the joint venture’s Audi sales unit. Just as a reminder, the joint venture – mainly the Audi sales division – alongside China’s local unit of Chrysler, were revealed to be fined by the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) because of monopoly practices.

Although the probes have not been connected (at least not yet), the statement revealed the investigation on the two executives was part of a wider probe started by the commission at FAW Group Corp. In recent months, following the numerous complaints by state media that automakers charge Chinese consumers more than in other markets, the country’s regulators have stepped up to enforce the antitrust laws.