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The Fair Trade Commission wants to revise the Antimonopoly Law and obtain the power to launch investigations into suspected offenders, FTC sources said Tuesday.

As part of its efforts to combat price cartels and bid-rigging, the trade watchdog is also looking to raise fines for violators, beef up its evidence-gathering capabilities and boost prevention measures, the sources said.

A study panel operating under the FTC is expected to draw up a draft for reviewing the law around October, with the aim of enacting the amendment in fiscal 2004.

The revision would allow the FTC, like the National Tax Agency, to enhance on-site inspections at companies suspected of violating the law and to seize evidence under court-issued search warrants, they said.

Under current law, the FTC cannot launch compulsory investigations unilaterally.

The revision is in line with a spring proposal, made under the government’s three-year deregulation program, that the FTC’s powers be expanded to meet the changing economic environment and a rise in flagrant anticompetitive offenses.

The FTC may also introduce a new penalty system under which repeat offenders would face stiffer fines, while those who turn themselves in to the FTC would face lighter penalties, the sources said.