$99 Million Criminal Fine for Fixing Price of Ocean Shipping Services
The Department of Justice announced July 13 that a Norwegian corporation has agreed to plead guilty and pay a $98.9 million criminal fine for its involvement in a conspiracy to fix prices of international ocean shipments of roll-on, roll-off cargo to and from the Port of Baltimore and other locations in the United States. According to a DOJ press release, the company participated in this conspiracy – which also involved bid rigging and customer allocation – from at least February 2000 until at least September 2012. Roll-on, roll-off cargo is non-containerized cargo that can be rolled onto and off of an ocean-going vessel. Examples of such cargo include new and used cars and trucks and mining, construction and agricultural equipment.
The DOJ states that this charge is the result of an ongoing federal antitrust investigation into price fixing, bid rigging and other anticompetitive conduct in the international roll-on, roll-off ocean shipping industry and that the Norwegian company has agreed to cooperate with this investigation. Three other carriers have pled guilty in this investigation so far, including a Chilean company and two Japanese companies.