Qualcomm denies direct financial links with Chinese antitrust expert

Thu Aug 14, 2014 6:43am EDT
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By Ben Blanchard and Matthew Miller

BEIJING (Reuters) - Qualcomm Inc, under investigation for possible monopolistic practices in China, said it had no direct financial links with an antitrust expert sacked from a government advisory post after state media reported he had received payments from the firm.

The San Diego-based company has been under investigation since November by the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), one of China's three antitrust regulators, over how the company licenses its patents and prices its chipsets.

Qualcomm is among an array of foreign firms that have been scrutinized by the government as China intensifies efforts to bring companies into compliance with its 2008 anti-monopoly law. At stake are financial penalties equivalent to as much as 10 percent of a company's annual revenue.

As part of the NDRC probe, Qualcomm hired Global Economics Group to produce an economic analysis for submission to the regulator, Christine Trimble, a spokeswoman at the chipset maker, told Reuters on Thursday.

She said the Chicago-based consultancy employed Zhang Xinzhu, a member of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS) and one of China's leading antitrust experts, to co-write the report.

Zhang was dismissed from the State Council's expert commission on competition issues for taking "huge rewards" from Qualcomm, the official Xinhua News Agency reported on Wednesday.

"Qualcomm paid Global Economics its standard rates for the firm's services," Trimble said, and did not have "any financial dealings" with Zhang directly.

David Evans, chairman of Global Economics Group, declined to comment.   Continued...

Visitors walk past the Qualcomm stand at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, February 24, 2014. REUTERS/Albert Gea