Stolt-Nielsen indictment dismissed
Stolt-Nielsen said a federal judge in Philadelphia has dismissed a criminal antitrust indictment brought by the U.S. Justice Department against the shipping company.
The company said Judge Bruce W. Kauffman, of the District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, upheld a motion by Stolt-Nielsen to dismiss the indictment during a hearing Thursday.
The indictment stems from a cartel that involved three shipping companies — Stolt-Nielsen; Odfjell Seachem AS of Norway; and Jo Tankers B.V., a Dutch company.
A federal grand jury in Philadelphia last year returned an indictment against Stolt, two of its subsidiaries, and two executives for participating in a conspiracy to allocate customers, fix prices, and rig bids on contracts of affreightment for parcel tanker shipping of products to and from the United States and elsewhere.
In November 2002, executives from Stolt-Nielsen approached federal antitrust authorities under the DOJ’s corporate leniency program. The company was granted amnesty for any antitrust activities it may have been engaged in prior to January 2003.
Stolt-Nielsen’s cooperation led to fines totaling $62.5 million being levied against the two other co-conspirators, and executives from both companies being jailed.
Stolt-Nielsen said that based on evidence from one of the others accused, the Justice Department said it was revoking the amnesty agreement and seeking a criminal indictment against the company.
Stolt-Nielsen said the judge found the there was a lack of credible evidence that Stolt-Nielsen’s participation in the customer allocation conspiracy continued past March 2002.