Thursday, April 3, 2014

Big Freight Forwarding Names Under Threat in Yet Another Shipping Antitrust Investigation

Ten Companies and Subsidiaries Facing Potential Cartel Prosecution - As Once Again Somebody Turns States Evidence
Shipping News Feature

SINGAPORE – GERMANY – JAPAN – In yet another potential antitrust shipping scandal the Competition Commission of Singapore (CCS) has issued a Proposed Infringement Decision (PID) against eleven freight forwarding companies and their Singapore subsidiaries/affiliates over alleged infringements of the Competition Act by collectively fixing certain fees and surcharges, and exchanging price and customer information in relation to the provision of air freight forwarding services for shipments from Japan to other destinations worldwide, a cartel by any other name.

The CCS commenced investigations after receiving an application for immunity under CCS’s Leniency Programme from one of the parties involved in the alleged cartel. Although at this stage we have no information as to who this was, a quick scan of the companies involved reveals one German group and the balance Japanese owned, and history dictates which company is likely to be let off with no penalty. In 2012 the infamous ‘Gardening Club’ received €169 million in penalties from the European Antitrust Commission whilst Deutsche Post and its subsidiaries like DHL received 100% immunity from prosecution.

The companies named are: Deutsche Post; Hankyu Hanshin Express; K Line; Kintetsu World Express; MOL Logistics (Japan); Nippon Express; Nishi-Nippon Railroad; Nissin Corporation; Vantec Corporation and its former subsidiary, Vantec World Transport (S); Yamato Holdings; and Yusen Logistics, along with each of their Singaporean subsidiaries, allegedly attended meetings in Japan to discuss and agree upon certain terms concerning air cargo services out of Japan. The PID is limited to anti-competitive agreements and/or concerted practices involving the Japan to Singapore route.

The PID is a written notice setting out the facts on which the CCS makes its assessment of the anti-competitive acts and its reasons for arriving at the proposed decision. It is issued to give the parties concerned an opportunity to respond to the PID and provide any other information to the CCS by way of representations. The CCS will consider all representations made before deciding whether to issue an infringement decision. In this regard, all the parties have 35 working days from the receipt of the PID to make their representations.