Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Yet Another Antitrust Case Resolved as Car Carrying Shipping Lines Pay the Penalty

$1.5 Million Penalties but Once Again No Admission of Guilt
Shipping News Feature
US – The Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) has reached a compromise agreement with Norwegian car carrier Wallenius Wilhelmsen Logistics (WWL) and its Korean corporate affiliate, Eukor Car Carriers, (Eukor), over allegations that the two shipping companies participated in certain space charter agreements with other ocean common carriers, in violation of the Shipping Act. For the alleged antitrust activities the FMC collected a combined $1.5 million in civil penalties and as is to be expected these days in the light of previous judgements, neither WWL nor Eukor admitted to any wrongdoing.

The compromise agreement resolved allegations that WWL and Eukor violated section 10(a) of the Shipping Act, by acting in concert with other ocean common carriers with respect to the transportation of automobiles and other motorised vehicles by RoRo or specialised car carrier vessels, where such agreements had not been filed with the Commission or become effective under the Shipping Act.

Commission staff alleged that these practices persisted over an extended period of time and involved numerous US trade lanes. In addition, the compromise resolved allegations that the carriers had failed to file certain space charter agreements or provided transportation under certain service contracts that had not been filed. FMC Chairman Mario Cordero commented:

"This settlement is one of several similar enforcement actions against major players in the car carrier industry which elected to provide transportation under agreements concealed from the Commission and the shipping public. The penalties exacted by the Commission reflect the seriousness with which Commission views its responsibility to protect the shipping public from such unfair carrier practices. It is only through carrier adherence to their statutory obligation to file agreements that the Commission can fulfil its mission and its responsibility to shippers and competing carriers."

In a somewhat ominous closing statement to send a shudder through the offices of other carriers, in concluding the compromise, WWL and Eukor agreed to provide ongoing cooperation with other Commission investigations or enforcement actions with respect to these activities.