Friday, July 15, 2016

Freight and Logistics Group Gets Multi-Million Dollar Fine for RoRo Shipping Antitrust Conspiracy

Cartel Activity Yet Again Reaps the Whirlwind from US Court
Shipping News Feature
US – Wallenius Wilhelmsen Logistics (WWL) has become the fourth shipping line to resolve allegations that it violated the Sherman Act by conspiring with competitors to fix prices, allocate customers, and rig bids of international ocean shipping services for RoRo Cargo such as cars and trucks to and from the US and around the world. WWL agreed to plead guilty and pay a breath-taking $98.9 million criminal fine for its involvement in a conspiracy, bringing the total so far collected in this case to over $230 million.

According to the one-count felony charge filed in the US District Court for the District of Maryland, WWL conspired with other RoRo carriers from at least February 2000 until at least September 2012 to fix prices, rig bids, and allocate customers. Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Renata B. Hesse, head of the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division, said

“WWL and its co-conspirators cheated their customers for years by fixing the prices of ocean shipping services for cars, trucks, and other cargo essential to our nation’s economy. The Antitrust Division, working together with our law enforcement colleagues, will continue to hold the ocean shipping companies and executives who perpetrated this scheme accountable for their crimes.”

WWL is the fourth company to plead guilty in the investigation, which has resulted in over $230 million in agreed-upon fines. In addition to paying its fine, WWL has agreed to cooperate with the department’s ongoing antitrust investigation. The plea agreement is subject to court approval. Japanese shipping line NYK was fined $59.4 million, Chilean firm CSAV penalised $8.9 million, and Japanese carrier K Line charged $67.7 million.

In addition, eight executives have been charged for their participation in the conspiracy. Four have already pleaded guilty and been sentenced to prison terms. The other four executives have been indicted, but remain fugitives from justice.