One current and two former executives of Wallenius Wilhelmsen Logistics have been charged with bid rigging and price fixing in the roll-on/roll-off shipping market, according to the U.S. Justice Department’s federal court in Baltimore.
One current and two former executives with shipping company Wallenius Wilhelmsen Logistics AS (WWL) are among those that have been indicted on charges of bid rigging and price fixing in the automobile shipping market, the U.S. Justice Department’s federal court in Baltimore revealed Tuesday.
Former WWL executives Anders Boman and Arild Iversen, as well as current executive Kai Kraass, have been charged with “participating in a long-running conspiracy to allocate certain customers and routes, rig bids, and fix prices for the sale of international ocean shipments of roll-on/roll-off cargo to and from the United States and elsewhere,” including at the Port of Baltimore, according to the DOJ.
“These indictments are the continuation of a long-term effort by the FBI’s Baltimore Field Office to secure our nation’s economy against collusion in the shipping industry, to ensure competition in the market place and to protect US companies from these deceptive practices,” Special Agent in Charge Gordon B. Johnson said in a statement.
The newly-revealed indictment alleges that Boman, Iversen and Kraass conspired with their competitors to allocate certain customers and routes for the shipment of cars and trucks, as well as construction and agricultural equipment.
The defendants accomplished their scheme by, among other things, attending meetings in Baltimore County and elsewhere during which they agreed not to compete against each other by refraining from bidding or by agreeing on the prices they would bid for certain customers and routes, the DOJ alleges.
In addition, the DOJ has said Boman, Iversen, and Kraass agreed with competitors to fix, stabilize, and maintain rates charged to customers of international ocean shipping services.
A federal grand jury returned the indictment in November 2016, but it remained sealed until June 27, according to the DOJ.
Including the newly-announced charges, a total of 11 executives have been charged in the investigation to date. Four have pleaded guilty and been sentenced to serve prison terms, while others remain international fugitives. WWL has pleaded guilty and in July 2016 was sentenced to pay a fine of nearly $99 million. Three other companies have also pleaded guilty, resulting in total collective criminal fines of over $230 million.
“WWL has pleaded guilty,” Acting Assistant Attorney General Andrew Finch of the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division said. “Now we are working to ensure that its executives who conspired to suppress competition at the expense of American consumers will be held accountable.”