Thursday, February 12, 2015

Another K Line Executive Jailed in RoRo Freight Rate Fixing Cartel Scandal

Second Guilty Plea in Antitrust Case Sees General Manager Incarcerated
Shipping News Feature

US – A second shipping Executive has pleaded guilty to a conspiracy stretching over fourteen years to fix rates, allocate customers, and rig bids of international ocean freight services for RoRo cargo, such as cars and trucks, to and from the United States and elsewhere. Former General Manager and Executive Officer in the Japanese based K Line car carrier division, Takashi Yamaguchi was sentenced to 14 months in a US prison for his involvement in the cartel.

According to the one-count felony charge filed in US District Court of Maryland in Baltimore, Yamaguchi participated in the conspiracy from at least as early as July 2006 until at least April 2010. Pursuant to the plea agreement, which was accepted by the court, Yamaguchi was sentenced to serve a 14 month prison term and pay a $20,000 criminal fine for his participation in the conspiracy, and has agreed to assist the department in its ongoing investigation into the ocean shipping industry. Bill Baer, Assistant Attorney General for the Antitrust Division, said:

“[This] sentencing is another step in our efforts to hold executives accountable for raising the cost of shipping cars, trucks and other equipment to and from the United States. We will continue to pursue the corporations and Executives whose illegal agreements have harmed American consumers.”

Yamaguchi was charged with a violation of the Sherman Act, which carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and a $1 million criminal fine for an individual. 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.

This sentence is the second imposed against an individual in the DOJ's ocean shipping investigation, the first also being a former Executive at K Line. Previously, three corporations have agreed to plead guilty and to pay criminal fines totalling more than $136 million, including Yamaguchi’s employer K-Line, which was sentenced to pay a criminal fine of $67.7 million in November 2014.