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South Korea's competition watchdog says it has fined the two top electronics manufacturers a total of 44.64 billion won ($38.5 million) for fixing prices of their electronics and home appliances.

A Samsung washing machine, with the price fixed

Samsung Electronics and LG Electronics were fined 25.81 billion won and 18.83 billion won respectively for fixing the prices of washing machines, flat-panel TVs and laptop computers, the Fair Trade Commission (FTC) said.

It said the firms held secret meetings between 2008 and 2009 and colluded to keep washing machine prices at agreed levels, while prices of flat-panel TVs and laptop computers were also manipulated.

"Their price-rigging caused damage to many consumers by leading the prices of washing machines, flat-panel TVs and laptop computers to rise more than other competing products," the Korean commission said in a statement.

LG said it discovered in 2009 that some of its employees had been involved in price-fixing discussions. It voluntarily reported the matter to the FTC, a spokeswoman said, and expects to be exempt from penalties.

"We are carrying out education on cartel prevention and are also strengthening compliance," she said.

Samsung declined to comment pending official notification of the commission's ruling.

Both Samsung and LG have come under fire on pricing issues in the US recently and in the past in the EU over fridge freezers. 

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