WWL to Pay $98.9 Million for Price Fixing
Wallenius Wilhelmsen Logistics (WWL) 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 one-count felony charge filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland, WWL conspired with other roll-on, roll-off ocean shipping lines from at least February 2000 until at least September 2012 to fix prices, rig bids and allocate customers.
“WWL and its co-conspirators cheated their customers for years by fixing the prices of ocean shipping services for cars, trucks and other cargo essential to our nation’s economy,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Renata B. Hesse, head of the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division.
WWL is the fourth company to agree to plead guilty in the investigation, which has resulted in over $230 million in agreed-upon fines. NYK, K-Line and CSAV have also pleaded guilty.
In addition, eight executives have been charged for their participation in the conspiracy including Mauricio Javier Garrido Garcia, an executive of CSAV, Yoshiyuki Aoki, formerly of K-Line, and Masahiro Kato and Shunichi Kusunose, formerly of NYK. Four executives have already pleaded guilty and been sentenced to prison terms. The other four executives have been indicted, but remain fugitives from justice.
In addition to paying its fine, WWL has agreed to cooperate with the department’s ongoing antitrust investigation.
The charge against WWL 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.