'K' Line pleads guilty to US ro-ro antitrust charges

'K' Line pleads guilty to US ro-ro antitrust charges

“K” Line has pled guilty to U.S. price fixing charges in the roll-on, roll-off market and will pay a $67.7 million criminal fine and take an extraordinary loss of roughly the same amount in its fiscal second quarter ending Sept. 30th.

According to a Justice Department release, Tokyo-based “K” Line, whose full name is Kawasaki Kisen Kaisha Ltd., pled guilty to a “conspiracy to fix prices, allocate customers, and rig bids of international ocean shipping services for roll-on, roll-off cargo, such as cars and trucks, to and from the United States and elsewhere,” including at the Port of Baltimore.

The DOJ said K-Line participated in the conspiracy from at least as early as February 1997 until at least September 2012. It said the company has “agreed to cooperate with the Department’s ongoing antitrust investigation.”

According to DOJ, “K-Line and its co-conspirators conspired by, among other things, agreeing – during meetings and communications – on prices, allocating customers, agreeing to refrain from bidding against one another and exchanging customer pricing information.” It further said, “the companies then charged rates in accordance with those agreements for international ocean shipping services for certain roll-on, roll-off cargo to and from the United States and elsewhere at collusive and non-competitive prices.”

According to Bill Baer, assistant attorney general of the DOJ’s antitrust division, “Our efforts exposed a long-running global conspiracy that operated globally, affecting the shipping costs of staggering numbers of cars, into and out of the Port of Baltimore, and other ports in the United States and across the globe.  Today’s announcement demonstrates our continuing resolve to bring the members of this conspiracy to justice. We are continuing our efforts to ensure that both the corporations and individuals involved in this cartel are held accountable for their acts and the harm they inflicted on American consumers.”

In a statement the company said: “K-Line takes this matter seriously and has taken steps to further strengthen its compliance and training programs to ensure compliance with all applicable laws and regulations.”

It said it will take a 7,023 million Yen ($64.26 million) extraordinary loss in the 2nd quarter ending Sept. 30th and said it was calculating a full year financial forecast in light of the settlement.