The Fair Trade Commission(FTC) is investigating the world’s top shipping companies such as Nippon Yusen for possible collusion in automobile transport rates. As the sales the shippers have earned in Korea during the collusion period are by the hundreds of billion won, the competition authorities’ penalties may reach by the tens of billion won.
According to shipping industry sources on August 3, the cartel investigation bureau of the Fair Trade Commission has started investigations on ten global shippers since last year in relation to price fixing in the international sea transport rates. The companies subject to the investigation include four Japanese firms like Nippon Yusen, K Line, Mitsui O.S.K. Lines, and Eastern Car Liner, Wallenius Wilhelmsen (Norway), and two Chilean shippers including CSAV. Of these, several Japanese ones voluntarily reported with competition authorities in multiple countries.
According to the commission, the shipping companies’ collusion has started as early as 2008. As it was anticipated that the automobile sea transport volume would shrink following the global financial crisis, managers of ten shipping companies contacted until 2012 through phone calls and email conferences to discuss ways to restrain competition in transport rates in moves to keep their profit from falling. This behavior is a clear case of violation of the provision 19-1 of the Fair Trade Law on “prohibition of illegal collective behavior (collusion).”
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