China fines car carrier firms for price fixing

DECEMBER 28, 2015 — After a year long investigation, China's National Development and Reform Commission has fined seven international shipping companies a total of RMB 407 million yuan ($63 million) for price fixing in the car carrier trades.

The Chinese action is the latest in a series of investigations into the industry worldwide, including by authorities in the U.S., the EU and Japan.

The Chinese penalties are considerably lower than those imposed by the U.S. for similar behavior, which also included prison terms for some company executives.

The fines are equivalent to 4% to 9% of the companies' international shipping sales calculated as a percentage of the respective company's share of import and export volumes to/from China.

The heaviest penalties were imposed on two Wilh. Wilhelmsen ASA (WWASA) joint ventures.

EUKOR Car Carriers (owned 40% by WWASA) has been fined approximately $44 million and Wallenius Wilhelmsen Logistics (owned 50% by WWASA) has been fined approximately $7 million respectively in fines from NDRC.

Japan's Mitsui O.S.K. Lines Ltd. (MOL) says it received a reduction in its fine as a result of its cooperation in the investigation. It still had to to pay the third largest fine, about $5.8 million.

Other companies fined were Japan's Eastern Car Carriers and Chile's Compania Sud Americana de Vapores (CSAV) along with one of its subsidiaries.

The agency didn't fine Japan's Nippon Yusen K.K. (NYK Line), citing its cooperation.NYK said it had been notified by NDRC that its ocean shipping service for cars and tarucks has violated China's anti-monopoly law.

NYK said it had "fully cooperated with the fair investigation being conducted by the NDRC in accordance with the anti-monopoly law in China, and consequently the company has received an immunity from the fine in the investigation. NYK appreciates NDRC's appropriate investigation procedure from beginning to end and fully accepts NDRC's final decision."

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