Archives For Price fixing

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News 24 reports that the Competition Commission on Wednesday conducted a search and seizure operation at the premises of six cargo shipping companies operating in the Western Cape and KwaZulu Natal (KZN) on suspicion of collusion and rate fixing, the body said in a statement.

“The Commission has reasonable grounds to suspect that Hamburg Sud South Africa, Maersk South Africa, Safmarine, Mediterranean Shipping Company, Pacific International Line South Africa and CMA CGM Shipping Agencies South Africa have engaged in collusive practices,” the Commission said.

The companies’ practices aimed to among other things fix the incremental rates for the shipment of cargo from Asia to South Africa, which was in contravention of the Competition Act.

According to the Commission, the search and seizure operation is conducted as part of an ongoing investigation which was initiated by the Commission based on information from a member of the public.

The companies under investigation transport cargo for import and export purposes across the globe, including South Africa. They use large metal containers as packaging crates and in-transit warehouses to store and transport general cargo such as frozen foods, garments and footwear.

The customers of these companies are mainly clearing and freight forward agents.

“South Africa is a strategic hub for the trade of goods in and out of the Southern African region. Any cartel by shipping liners in this region results in inflated prices for cargo transportation,” said Tembinkosi Bonakele, commissioner of the Competition Commission.

“Cartels of this nature increase the costs of trading in the region and render the region uncompetitive in the world markets. Such cartels have the effect of significantly derailing the economic growth of the region.”

Reuters reported that Maersk and MSC confirmed the raids and said they were cooperating with authorities. The other companies did not respond to Reuters’ requests for immediate comment.

“The fact that the SACC carries out such inspections does not mean that a company has engaged in anti-competitive behaviour,” Maersk said.

EU antitrust regulators in July accepted an offer from Maersk and 13 competitors to change their pricing practices in order to stave off possible fines. Source: News24

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BackhanderTwo Japanese freight forwarders have agreed to pay a total of $18.9 million in criminal fines for their role in a price-fixing scheme, according to the Department of Justice (DOJ).

Over the course of at least five years, Yusen Logistics Co. and “K” Line Logistics Ltd. conspired to fix freight forwarding fees, including security fees and fuel surcharges, on air cargo shipments from Japan to the U.S., the Department of Justice (DOJ) said. The two are just the latest in a string of 16 freight forwarding companies that have agreed to plead guilty to price-fixing and 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,” Bill Baer, Assistant Attorney General of the DOJ’s Antitrust Division said in a statement. “Prosecuting these kinds of global, price-fixing conspiracies continues to be a top priority of the Antitrust Division.”

The DOJ seems to have been successful in pursuing that priority. In the 2012 fiscal year, the antitrust division collected a record-breaking $1.35 billion in criminal fines, nearly 60 percent of which came from Asia-Pacific-based companies. Source: Insidecounsel.com