China fines Toyota for 'bribery'

The accusation comes at a time of rising tensions between China and Japan and amid Toyota’s effort to counter the impact of massive recalls on its sales in China by offering steep discounts and other incentives to potential buyers. The bribes took the form of rebates meant to encourage dealers to have customers use loans from Toyota, rather than banks, to finance car purchases, Jiang Zhugen, an official at Jianggan Administration for Industry & Commerce in the eastern city of Hangzhou, said on Tuesday.

“We sent the hearing notice on last Friday, and Toyota should have received it yesterday. The final penalty decision will be made after three working days if the company does not submit an application for another hearing,” Jiang said.

The official Xinhua News Agency reported that authorities would fine the company 140,000 yuan ($20,650) and have confiscated 426,352 yuan ($65,500) in “illegal earnings” from 49 car sales. A staffer at Toyota Motor Finance (China) Co disputed the allegation that rebates were a form of bribery.

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