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LUXEMBOURG: February 01, 2018. The Court of Justice of the European Union has upheld €169 million in fines originally imposed by the European Commission on a number of freight forwarders as a result of their involvement in four cartels between 2002 and 2007.

European Court of JusticeThe Commission held that the anti-competitive conduct of the companies, which agreed on the fixing of various pricing mechanisms and surcharges, gave rise to four distinct cartels: the pre-clearance system (NES) for exports from the UK to countries outside the European Economic Area; the advanced manifest system (AMS) that requires companies to submit data on goods that they intend to ship to the U.S.; a currency adjustment (CAF) to minimize the risk in a fall in profits following a decision in 2005 by the People's Bank of China to no longer peg the Renminbi to the U.S. Dollar; and a peak season (PSS) surcharge to protect freight forwarders' margins when demand exceeded capacity and led to a rise in airline rates.

Ceva Freight (UK) and EGL plus Kuehne + Nagel (K+N) and Schenker UK; were involved in the NES; participants in the AMS cartel were K+N, Schenker, Panalpina and UTi Worldwide; CAF cartel members included K+N, Schenker China, Deutsche Bahn and Panalpina; and the PSS involved K+N, Schenker Hong Kong and Panalpina.

The Court of Justice (right) upheld fines for K+N totaling €53.63 million; Schenker, €31.14 million; and Panalpina, €46.47 million.

In its appeal ruling the Court rejected all arguments put forward by the forwarders, and agreed with the Commission that it was appropriate to base the fines on the value of sales associated with freight forwarding services as a package of services on the trade routes concerned.

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