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Shippers Seek Reparations from Vehicle Carriers in FMC Complaint

Wednesday, January 13, 2016
Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg Trade Report

A class action complaint has been filed with the Federal Maritime Commission against more than a dozen companies described as “the largest providers of deep sea vehicle transport services … in the world.” This action could ultimately result in the payment of as-yet unquantified reparations to thousands of entities that purchased such services for shipments to or from the U.S. directly from any of the respondents at any time between Feb. 1, 1997, and Dec. 31, 2012.

The complaint alleges that the respondents have conspired to allocate customers and markets, rig bids, restrict supply and otherwise raise, fix, stabilize or maintain prices for vehicle carrier services for shipments to and from the U.S. pursuant to agreements that were not filed with the FMC, causing shippers to pay artificially inflated prices for these services. Authorities in the U.S., Canada, Japan and the European Union have been conducting criminal investigations of this conduct for several years, and some of the companies named in this complaint have already pleaded guilty and agreed to pay hundreds of millions of dollars in penalties. In addition, several of their executives have pleaded guilty or been indicted.

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