JULY 14, 2016 — Wallenius Wilhelmsen Logistics AS (WWL), a Norwegian corporation, has agreed to plead guilty and pay a $98.9 million criminal fine for its involvement in a conspiracy to fix prices of international ocean shipments of roll-on, roll-off cargo to and from the Port of Baltimore and other locations in the United States.
According to WWL, the settlement also closes the DOJ investigation into WWL's sister company EUKOR.
According to the one-count felony charge filed yesterday in the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland, WWL conspired with other roll-on, roll-off ocean shipping lines from at least February 2000 until at least September 2012 to fix prices, rig bids, and allocate customers.
"WWL and its co-conspirators cheated their customers for years by fixing the prices of ocean shipping services for cars, trucks, and other cargo essential to our nation's economy," said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Renata B. Hesse, head of the Justice Department's Antitrust Division. "The Antitrust Division, working together with our law enforcement colleagues, will continue to hold the ocean shipping companies and executives who perpetrated this scheme accountable for their crimes."
"It is with great regret that I conclude that our policies were not always followed as they should have been," said Håkan Larsson, Chairman of the Board of Wallenius Wilhelmsen Logistics and member of the EUKOR board. "We have supported this investigation throughout, and whilst it is a sad day, I am pleased to have reached this settlement with the DOJ. We will continue our work to meet the highest ethical standards. It is what we owe our customers as well as ourselves."
WWL is the fourth company to agree to plead guilty in the investigation, which has resulted in over $230 million in agreed-upon fines. In addition, eight executives have been charged for their participation in the conspiracy. Four have already pleaded guilty and been sentenced to prison terms. The other four executives have been indicted, but remain fugitives from justice.In addition to paying its fine, WWL has agreed to cooperate with the Justice department's ongoing antitrust investigation. The plea agreement is subject to court approval.