HONG KONG Dec 13 Chinese regulators have
accused French supermarket chain Carrefour, the
world's No.2 retailer, of misleading customers over prices at
one of its outlets in northwestern China, the official Xinhua
news agency reported on Thursday.
Inspectors in the city of Taiyuan in Shanxi province found
that one of its stores was engaged in "price gouging", charging
customers higher prices at check-out counters than were
advertised on the shelves, it said.
According to Xinhua, the results of the investigation, which
began last week, have already been submitted to a trial board
and penalties will be issued soon.
Officials at Carrefour's China headquarters could not be
reached for comment.
Qiao Xudong, the Taiyuan store's public relations manager,
told Reuters that the municipal pricing bureau was investigating
the firm, but denied intentional mis-pricing and said that no
official conclusion had yet been drawn.
"We are actively cooperating with the price bureau on the
investigation, and will look into the matter thoroughly," he
said. "But as a company which deals with thousands of products,
you cannot guarantee that there won't be any mistakes at all,
that would be unrealistic."
If found guilty of price violations, Carrefour could be
liable to a fine no greater than five times the amount of
illegally gained profit, Xinhua said.
In January last year, China fined Carrefour and U.S. rival
Wal-Mart Stores Inc in a similar case over price
Carrefour, which has over 200 stores in China, was forced to
temporarily close one of its stores in March after state media
reported the chain was passing off regular chicken as free-range
In February, Wal-Mart named a new head of its China
operation, which had been tainted by food scandals, including a
pork mislabelling issue in 2011 that forced the company to
temporarily shut a dozen stores in central China.