Truck shipping firm admits cartel guilt here

ACCC says Japanese global vehicle transporter NYK puts hand up over historic gouge

Truck shipping firm admits cartel guilt here
NYK has entered a guilty plea.


Ongoing global action against international vehicle transport operators for price fixing has surfaced here.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) reports Nippon Yusen Kabushiki Kaisha (NYK) pleaded guilty today in the Federal Court to criminal cartel conduct.

Roll-on roll-off ship operators have fallen foul of competition authorities since 2012, when the European Commission and the Japan Fair Trade Commission (JFTC) tackled NYK, Kawasaki Kisen Kaisha (K-Line), Mitsui OSK Lines (MOL) and its subsidiary, Nissan Motor Car Carrier Co (NMCC), along with Norwegian firm Wallenius Wilhelmsen Logistics (WWL) for 2008-2012 price fixing.

US class action claimants opened proceedings the following year.

Since then Compania Sud Americana de Vapores (CSAV), Hoegh Autoliners, and Eukor Car Carriers have also been prosecuted in countries as diverse as Chile and South Africa last year and Brazil this year.

This is the first criminal charge laid against a corporation under the criminal cartel provisions of the Competition and Consumer Act," ACCC Chairman Rod Sims says.

The Australian charge was laid by the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions (CDPP) under section 44ZZRG of the Competition and Consumer Act 2010 on July 14.

An ACCC spokesperson would not be drawn on what other charges related to this case are pending against whom, though the ACCC says its investigation into "other alleged cartel participants is continuing". 

For corporations, the maximum fine for each criminal cartel offence will be the greater of:

  • $10 million
  • three times the total benefits that have been obtained and are reasonably attributable to the commission of the offence
  • if the total value of the benefits cannot be determined, 10 per cent of the corporation’s annual turnover connected with Australia.

The matter is scheduled for a directions hearing in the Federal Court on September 12. 

"Given this is a criminal matter currently before the Court, the ACCC will not provide any further comment at this time," the ACCC says.

In the US, the Department of Justice (DOJ) imposed $136 million (A$179 million) in fines against K-Line (US$67.7 million), NYK (US$59.4 million) and CSAV (US$8.9 million).

In Japan in 2014, K-Line was fined ¥5.7 billion (A$71 million), WWL ¥3.5 billion and NMCC ¥423 million.

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