WASHINGTON – Two Japanese air freight forwarding companies have agreed to plead guilty and to pay criminal fines totaling $18.9 million for their roles in a conspiracy to fix certain fees in connection with the provision of air freight forwarding services for air cargo shipments from Japan to the United States, the Department of Justice announced today. “K” Line Logistics Ltd. has agreed to pay a $3,507,246 criminal fine and Yusen Logistics Co. Ltd. has agreed to pay a $15,428,207 criminal fine.
Including today’s charges, as a result of this investigation, 16 companies have either pleaded guilty or agreed to plead guilty and have agreed to pay criminal fines totaling more than $120 million.
“Consumers were forced to pay higher prices on the goods they buy every day as a result of the noncompetitive and collusive service fees charged by these companies,” said Bill Baer, Assistant Attorney General in charge of the Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division. “Prosecuting these kinds of global, price-fixing conspiracies continues to be a top priority of the Antitrust Division.”
Freight forwarders manage the domestic and international delivery of cargo for customers by receiving, packaging, preparing and warehousing cargo freight, arranging for cargo shipment through transportation providers such as air carriers, preparing shipment documentation and providing related ancillary services.
According to charges filed separately today in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, “K” Line Logistics and Yusen Logistics engaged in a conspiracy to fix and to impose certain freight forwarding service fees, including fuel surcharges and various security fees, charged to customers for services provided in connection with air freight forwarding shipments of cargo shipped by air from Japan to the United States from about September 2002 until at least November 2007.
According to the charges, the companies carried out the conspiracy by, among other things, agreeing during meetings and discussions to coordinate and impose certain freight forwarding service fees and charges on customers purchasing freight forwarding services for cargo shipped by air from Japan to the United States. The department said the companies levied freight forwarding service fees in accordance with the agreements reached and engaged in meetings and discussions for the purpose of monitoring and enforcing adherence to the agreed-upon freight forwarding service fees.
Each company is charged with price fixing in violation of the Sherman Act, which carries a maximum $100 million 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.
Today’s charges are the result of a joint investigation being conducted by the Antitrust Division’s National Criminal Enforcement Section, the FBI’s Washington Field Office and the Department of Commerce’s Office of Inspector General. Anyone with information concerning the price fixing or other anticompetitive conduct in the freight forwarding industry is urged to call the Antitrust Division’s National Criminal Enforcement Section at 202-307-6694 or visit www.justice.gov/atr/contract/newcase.htm or call the FBI’s Washington Field Office at 202-278-2000.