Japanese freight forwarding companies "K" Line Logistics and Yusen Logistics have pleaded guilty to price-fixing and have agreed to pay a total of $18.9 million in fines, according to the U.S. Justice Department.
"K" Line Logistics will pay $3.5 million, while Yunsen's fine is $15.42 million.
The two Japanese firms bring the total number of forwarders that have pleaded guilty to price-fixing to 16. The group has been charged a total of $120 million. These fines pale in comparison to the Justice Department's fines for airlines guilty of price-fixing, which have soared past $1 billion.
According to the Justice Department, "K" Line Logistics and Yusen conspired to fix security and fuel surcharges on forwarding services between Japan and the United States from September 2002 to November 2007. Price-fixing is a violation of the Sherman Act, a transgression for which companies can be fined $100 million, twice the gain derived from the crime, or two-times the total of the loss experienced by victims, whichever is greater.
“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,” said Bill Baer, head of the Justice Department's Antitrust Division, in a statement. “Prosecuting these kinds of global, price-fixing conspiracies continues to be a top priority of the antitrust division.” - Jon Ross