Japanese shipping company Kawasaki Kisen Kaisha (K-Line) has agreed to pay a $67.7m criminal fine for conspiring to fix prices, allocate customers and rig bids of international ocean shipping services for roll-on and roll-off cargo.
According to the US District Court in Baltimore, K-Line has been involved in the conspiracy from February 1997 to September 2012 for shipments from the US and elsewhere, including the Port of Baltimore.
Roll-on, roll-off cargo is non-containerised cargo includingshipments such as new and used cars and trucks, and construction and agricultural equipment.
US Department of Justice (DoJ) antitrust division assistant attorney general Bill Baer said: "Today's announcement demonstrates our continuing resolve to bring the members of this conspiracy to justice.
"We are continuing our efforts to ensure that both the corporations and individuals involved in this cartel are held accountable for their acts and the harm they inflicted on American consumers."
During the period, K-Line and its co-conspirators agreed on prices, allocating customers, refrained from bidding against one another and exchanged customer pricing information, the DoJ stated.
According to the verdict, K-Line has been charged with price fixing in violation of the Sherman Act, which allows the company to be fined up to $100m.
This decision follows the on-going federal antitrust investigation being conducted by Antitrust Division's Washington Criminal I section and the FBI's Baltimore Field Office, with the support of the US Customs and Border Protection Office of Internal Affairs, Washington Field Office / Special Investigations Unit.
Image: A K-Line container ship steaming into San Francisco Bay. Photo: courtesy of Debivort.