Millions fine for Booking.com in Russia
Booking.com has to pay a fine of 1.3 billion rubles (converted 14.9 million euros) in Russia for abuse of its dominant market position. This was reported by the Russian financial watchdog FAS on Thursday evening. FAS deals with monopoly positions in Russian business.
fasrussia FAS RussiaFAS fined https://t.co/mYI3cJdkvz BV for 1.3 billion rubles https://t.co/WinHYedF5226 augustus 2021 @ 16:20
The American travel website with Dutch headquarters in Russia has been under investigation since last year, after a large Russian SME organization filed a complaint about unfair competition. According to the agency, Booking.com banned hotels, hostels and other accommodations affiliated with the platform from offering their services cheaper elsewhere than through Booking.com. Abuse of power, the FAS concluded. When the regulator ordered the company to stop doing so, Booking.com ignored it. That is why the fine followed. Booking.com has not yet responded to the matter.
A Booking.com spokesperson said Friday morning that he was disappointed by the ruling and would contest it. “This decision goes against the majority of European courts, which have ruled that parity promotes competition,” the spokesperson wrote in an email. “European hotels use an average of six to seven distribution channels simultaneously to reach travelers” […] with Booking.com occupying a market share of just 13 percent across Europe.”
It’s not the first time the company has come under fire. In June, the Italian Public Prosecutor’s Office announced that Booking.com there is suspected of not paying VAT on around 700 million euros in revenue. In the Netherlands there was recently a commotion when it turned out that, despite more than a hundred million euros in state aid, the company had promised the three-person board bonuses worth tens of millions of euros. After the fuss, Booking.com refunded the support funds.
On Thursday, several tech companies were fined by a Russian judge for refusing to store their Russian users’ data on Russian servers. Twitter, Whatsapp and Facebook must pay amounts between 46,000 and 195,000 euros. For Whatsapp it is the first time that the company has been fined in Russia.