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$59 Million Criminal Fine for Fixing Price of Ocean Shipping Services

Wednesday, December 31, 2014
Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg Trade Report

The Department of Justice announced Dec. 29 that a Japanese ocean carrier has agreed to plead guilty and pay a $59.4 million criminal fine for its involvement in a conspiracy to suppress and eliminate competition by fixing prices, allocating customers and rigging bids of international ocean shipping services for roll-on, roll-off cargo such as cars and trucks to and from the United States and elsewhere. According to a DOJ press release, the carrier participated in this conspiracy from at least February 1997 until at least September 2012.

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 Japanese carrier has agreed to cooperate with this investigation. The first charges in this investigation were brought earlier this year against a Chilean corporation, which agreed to pay an $8.9 million criminal fine, while another Japanese ocean carrier subsequently agreed to pay a heftier $67.7 million criminal fine.

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