China fines 3 online vendors for misreported prices, sales

China’s market regulator on Thursday fined Inc., a unit of Alibaba Group and a third e-commerce outlet on charges of misreporting prices and other offenses amid a campaign to tighten official control over the booming industry.

The ruling Communist Party encourages e-commerce and other online industries but worries about the dominance of major competitors. Party leaders say anti-monopoly enforcement, especially against online companies, will be a priority in the coming year., Alibaba’s Tmall and Vipshop E-Commerce Ltd. also engaged in “false promotions” and misreported discounts during Singles Day, a popular shopping period in early November, the State Administration of Market Regulation announced.

Each was fined 500,000 yuan ($76,000). They have 60 days to appeal.

Last week, the government announced an anti-monopoly investigation of Alibaba, the world’s biggest e-commerce company by total sales volume.

Regulators earlier suspended the stock market debut of Ant Group, an online finance platform spun off from Alibaba, and summoned industry executives to warn against using their companies’ dominant market positions to try to suppress competition.

Customers complained, Tmall and Vipshop misrepresented prices, discounts, sale periods and other information about goods ranging from athletic shoes to imported Thai rice, the market agency said.