Shipping executives Anders Boman, Arild Iversen and Kai Kraass have been indicted with participating in a long-running price fixing conspiracy.
The indictments were unsealed in the U.S. District Court in Baltimore and relate to price fixing on international ro-ro cargo shipments to and from the U.S. and elsewhere, including the Port of Baltimore. A federal grand jury returned the indictment in November 2016.
Boman, a citizen of Sweden, and Iversen, a Norwegian citizen, are former executives of Wallenius Wilhelmsen Logistics (WWL). Kraass, a German citizen, is a current WWL executive.
A further eight people have been charged in the investigation to date. Four have pleaded guilty and been sentenced to serve prison terms. Others remain international fugitives.
WWL has pleaded guilty and been sentenced to pay a $98.9 million fine. WWL is the fourth company to agree to plead guilty in the investigation, which has resulted in over $230 million in agreed-upon fines. NYK, K-Line and CSAV have also pleaded guilty.
In addition, eight other executives have previously been charged for their participation in the conspiracy including Mauricio Javier Garrido Garcia, an executive of CSAV, Yoshiyuki Aoki, formerly of K-Line and Masahiro Kato and Shunichi Kusunose, formerly of NYK. The other four executives have been indicted, but remain fugitives.
The 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.
In addition, the men agreed with competitors to fix, stabilize and maintain rates charged to customers of international ocean shipping services. The customers affected by the conspiracy included U.S. companies.
“The indictment unsealed today is yet another step in the Division’s efforts to restore competition in the shipping industry,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Andrew Finch of the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division. “WWL has pleaded guilty. Now we are working to ensure that its executives who conspired to suppress competition at the expense of American consumers will be held accountable.”
The indictments are the result of an ongoing federal antitrust investigation into price fixing, bid rigging and other anti-competitive conduct in the international ro-ro shipping industry which is being conducted by the Antitrust Division’s Washington Criminal I Section, the FBI and U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers.By MarEx