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NYK car imageWASHINGTON, DC: The U.S. Department of Justice (DoJ) has sentenced an NYK Line general manager to 15 months in prison and fined him US$20,000 for his involvement in a conspiracy to fix prices for roll-on, roll-off services to and from the United States.

Susumu Tanaka, who was a manager, deputy general manager and then general manager in NYK's car carrier division, has pleaded guilty to allocating customers and routes, bid rigging and fixing prices between April 2004 and September 2012.

"Today's sentence is another step toward [in] bringing to justice the perpetrators of this long-running cartel and restoring competition to the ocean shipping industry," said Bill Baer, assistant attorney general for the DoJ's Antitrust Division. "But this investigation is far from over. We are continuing our efforts to hold accountable the companies and executives who seek to maximize profits through illegal, anticompetitive means."

Tanaka's sentence is the third against an individual in the ongoing investigation and the first against an NYK employee. So far, three corporations have agreed to plead guilty and pay criminal fines totaling more than US$136 million - including US$59.4 million by NYK.

In February last year Compañía Sud Americana de Vapores S.A. (CSAV), a Chilean corporation, was fined US$8.9 million for price-fixing similar services. This was followed in September with the prosecution of Kawasaki Kisen Kaisha Ltd. (K-Line) that agreed to plead guilty and pay a US$67.7 million criminal fine for its involvement in the conspiracy.

Last month NYK announced its first non-stop RORO service for finished cars from Acapulco, Mexico via Port Hueneme in California to Yokohama, Nagoya, Pyeongtaek (South Korea), Xingang and Shanghai.

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