Japanese shipping company Nippon Yusen Kabushiki Kaisha (NYK) has agreed to plead guilty and pay a USD 59.4 million criminal fine for its involvement in a conspiracy to fix prices, allocate customers, and rig bids of international ocean shipping services for roll-on, roll-off cargo to and from the United States and elsewhere, the U.S. Department of Justice said in a statement.

According to a one-count felony charge filed in U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland in Baltimore, NYK and its co-conspirators conspired by agreeing on prices, allocating customers, agreeing to refrain from bidding against one another and exchanging customer pricing information. The department said the companies then charged fees in accordance with those agreements for international ocean shipping services for certain roll-on, roll-off cargo to and from the United States and elsewhere at collusive and non-competitive prices.

NYK participated in the conspiracy from at least February 1997 until at least September 2012.

NYK is charged with price fixing in violation of the Sherman Act, which carries a maximum penalty of a USD 100 million criminal fine for corporations. The maximum fine may be increased to twice the gain derived from the crime or twice the loss suffered by the victims of the crime, if either of those amounts is greater than the statutory maximum fine.

The 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, which is being conducted by the Antitrust Division’s Washington Criminal I Section and the FBI’s Baltimore Field Office, along with assistance from the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Office of Internal Affairs, Washington Field Office/Special Investigations Unit.

Source: worldmaritimenews.com