Thursday, October 8, 2015

Additional Antitrust Indictments as RoRo Cargo Shipping Cartel Scandal Continues

Three More Freight Company Executives Stand Accused of Corruption
Shipping News Feature
US – JAPAN – Three former ocean freight executives have been indicted for participating in a long-running price-fixing conspiracy. The executives, Yoshiyuki Aoki, Masahiro Kato and Shunichi Kusunose, have been charged with cartel activity under antitrust regulations by collaborating on the allocation of customers and routes, rigging bids and fixing prices for the sale of international ocean shipments of RoRo cargo, such as cars, trucks, construction equipment and agricultural equipment, to and from the US and elsewhere.

Aoki, formerly of Kawasaki Kisen Kaisha (K Line), and Kato and Kusunose, formerly of Nippon Yusen Kabushiki Kaisha (NYK), are among seven executives, all natives of Japan, who have been charged in the investigation so far. Four have pleaded guilty and been sentenced to prison, with the two Japanese companies and Chilean firm CSAV also pleading guilty with more than $136 million in criminal fines paid collectively so far. Assistant Attorney General Bill Baer of the Justice Department's Antitrust Division, said:

“The companies and executives who conspired to restrict competition and raise prices for shipping these products must be held accountable. We previously charged NYK and K-Line for their role in this long-running conspiracy. Today we are continuing our effort to ensure that the executives at those companies who orchestrated the ocean shipping conspiracy face the consequences as well.”

The indictment, which was returned by a grand jury in the District of Maryland, charges all the men with participating in the conspiracy until at least September 2012, Aoki from at least 2001, Kato with participating from at least as early as April 2002 and Kusunose from at least as early as April 2004.

Editor’s Note: An indictment is a formal charging document and defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty.