Friday, July 31, 2015

More Antitrust Fines for RoRo Vehicle Shipping Giant Which Colluded with Competitors in Cartel

Competition Commission Doles Out Multi-Million Dollar Penalty
Shipping News Feature

SOUTH AFRICA – NORWAY – Norwegian headquartered shipping line Wallenius Wilhelmsen Logistics (WWL) has reached a settlement agreement with the South African Competition Commission (SACC) for violating the country’s Competition Act by colluding with competitors to fix the prices of ocean freight services on motor vehicles shipped to and from South Africa. The case is reminiscent of that of the antitrust lawsuit underway in the US which has so far seen several well-known RoRo cargo carriers penalised millions and some employees jailed for similar cartel activities.

The Commission found that WWL colluded on 11 tenders with its competitors in the transportation of motor vehicles by sea issued by several automotive manufacturers to and from South Africa, including BMW, Toyota Motor Corporation, Nissan, and Honda among others. WWL will pay an administrative penalty in the amount of R95.7 million, equal to around $7.7 million, and implement and monitor a competition law compliance programme as part of its corporate governance policy.

In September 2012, the SACC opened an investigation into conduct between competitors in the car carrier trade, concerning transport to and from South Africa in the period from 1999 to September 2012. The commission alleges that MOL, K Line, CSAV, Hoegh Autoliners, Wallenius Wilhelmsen Logistics, Eukor Car Carriers, and NYK all colluded to fixed prices, divided markets and tendered collusively in respect of the provision of deep sea transportation services which entailed the shipment of large quantities of motor vehicles, equipment and machinery by sea. In a statement, WWL said:

“WWL takes this matter very seriously and has cooperated fully with the Competition Commission throughout the investigation. Among other findings, the Commission's investigation concluded that WWL engaged in instances of prohibited practices. Accordingly, WWL has entered into a consent agreement with the Commission. The Competition Commission, being the investigating authority, has now referred the settlement to the Competition Tribunal of South Africa to be tried.”