The Federal Maritime Commission announced it reached compromise agreements with two Japanese companies for alleged violations of the Shipping Act by their roll-on, roll-off cargo operations.
Under separate agreements, Kawasaki Kisen Kaisha Ltd. ("K" Line), paid $1.1 million in civil penalties, and Nippon Yusen Kaisha (NYK Line) paid $1.23 million in civil penalties.
With the deals, the two carriers were found to have acted "in concert with other ocean common carriers with respect to the shipment of automobiles and other motorized vehicles by ro-ro or specialized car carrier vessels, where such agreement(s) had not been filed with the commission or become effective under the Shipping Act," the FMC said.
These violations, according to the FMC, according on lanes in the U.S., Europe, South America, the Middle East and Asia.
"These penalties underscore the seriousness with which the commission views the carriers’ obligation to file with the commission any agreement with other carriers affecting working relationships in the U.S. trades, both for import and export traffic," FMC Chairman Mario Cordero stated. "The shipping public has a right to know the subject matter and scope of any such agreement, and the commission is charged by Congress to oversee the parties’ operations and conduct under such agreements.
"Investigations by our Bureau of Enforcement as to additional carriers implicated in similar agreement activities are continuing at this time."
The agency added that both companies agreed to help the FMC with further investigations, but that "the carriers did not admit to violations of the act or the commission’s regulations."
In September 2012, the offices of several major shipping companies that operate car carriers were visited by antitrust authorities in Japan
by the country's fair trade commission.
In May, the law firm Susman Godfrey filed a nationwide class action against some of the world’s largest maritime vehicle shipping companies, alleging price fixing of carrier services. The defendants included Wallenius Wilhelmsen Logistics, NYK, "K" Line and EUKOR Car Carriers.