DHL Global Forwarding, named on April 1 by Singapore’s competition watchdog as one of 11 forwarders involved in 2002 to 2007 price-fixing of Japan to Singapore shipments, said the economic effects of its activities were “minimal.”
A DHL spokesman told the JOC it would be granted immunity from fines and prosecution as a result of its cooperation in the Competition Commission of Singapore (CCS) investigation and that Deutsche Post’s mail, express and supply chain divisions were not the subject of the probe.
CCS found the forwarders had infringed section 34 of the Competition Act “by collectively fixing certain fees and surcharges, and exchanging price and customer information in relation to the provision of air freight forwarding services for shipments from Japan to Singapore.”
In the last few years, freight forwarders have come under mounting scrutiny by competition authorities in Asia, the U.S. and Europe and regulators have been vigorous in their attempts to clamp down on price fixing, notching up some high profile victims.
UPS, Panalpina and Kuehne + Nagel were among 14 logistics companies fined US$225 million by the European Commission for violating European Union antitrust rules between 2002 and 2007. Two of the companies charged, DHL Global Forwarding and Exel, started the investigation in 2007 when they blew the whistle.
In March last year, Japanese forwarders Yusen Logistics and “K” Line Logistics were hit with a fine of US$18.9 million by the U.S. Justice Department after pleading guilty to conspiring to fix fuel surcharges and various security fees on shipments from Japan to the U.S. between 2002 and 2007. A total of 16 forwarders were fined US$120 million in that investigation.
“The Singapore investigation is, we believe, the final chapter in a series of investigations relating to pricing and surcharges in the forwarding industry in the 2002 to 2007 period,” the DHL spokesman said.
“This conduct has already been the subject of investigations in the U.S., E.U. and numerous other countries in Australasia and the Americas.”
The other forwarders named in the probe are Hankyu Hanshin Express and its subsidiary, Hankyu Hanshin Express (Singapore); “K” Line Logistics and its subsidiary, “K” Line Logistics (Singapore); Kintetsu World Express and subsidiary KWE-Kintetsu World Express (Singapore); MOL Logistics (Japan) and subsidiary MOL Logistics (Singapore); Nippon Express and subsidiary Nippon Express (Singapore); Nishi-Nippon Railroad Co and subsidiary NNR Global Logistics (Singapore); Nissin Corporation and subsidiary Nissin Transport (Singapore); Vantec Corporation and its former subsidiary, Vantec World Transport (Singapore); Yamato Holdings Co and subsidiaries Yamato Global Logistics Japan and Yamato Asia; and Yusen Logistics and its subsidiary, Yusen Logistics (Singapore).
A spokesman for the Singapore competition commission said the forwarders had until May 24 to respond to the CCS and any decision on penalties would be made after assessing their representations.