Expeditors International of Washington “vigorously denied” price-setting allegations that resulted in a $5.5 million fine from the European Commission.
“We obviously disagree with the EC’s decision in this matter,” Peter J. Rose, chairman and CEO of the Seattle-based company, said in a statement Thursday.
The $1.9 billion international freight forwarder is one of 13 logistics companies the EC fined a total of $225 million for allegedly fixing international air cargo rates.
The EC said the logistics companies operated four cartels on major routes between Europe and the U.S., China and Hong Kong between 2002 and 2007.
Among the other companies fined are Kuehne + Nagel, hit with a $71.5 million fine, Panalpina, fined $61.4 million and UPS, which was fined $13 million.
Deutsche Post’s DHL Forwarding unit participated in the cartels but wasn’t fined because it alerted regulators of their activities, according to the EC.
The EC charged Expeditors with conspiring to fix a peak season surcharge on the South China-Hong Kong to Europe route from September 2005 to June 2006.
In the statement, Rose insisted Expeditors International played no part in any price-fixing cartel but did not say whether the company would appeal the ruling.
“We have stated all along, and strongly reiterate today, that we did not enter into any agreement, in any way, that affected pricing to our customers,” he said.
“Despite having been issued one of the smaller fines, it is the ‘non-financial’ issues more than the financial considerations that concern us most about this ruling.”
Rose said Expeditors International met with EC regulators as recently as March 16, when it argued its position before EC investigators and officials.
“We presented very strong evidence documenting our independent conduct,” said Rose. “The evidence we presented to the EC is very clear as to this matter.
“We believe the EC ignored these facts and we have concerns over how the laws were applied, as well as how the fines were calculated,” Rose said.