An executive of Japan-based Kawasaki Kisen Kaisha Ltd. (K-Line) was sentenced to 18 months in a U.S. prison for his involvement in a conspiracy to fix prices in the car carrier business, the US Department of Justice said on Friday.
According to the one-count felony charge, Hiroshige Tanioka, who was at various times an assistant manager, team leader and general manager in K-Line’s car carrier division, conspired to allocate customers and routes, rig bids and fix prices for the sale of international ocean shipments of roll-on, roll-off cargo to and from the United States and elsewhere, including the Port of Baltimore. Tanioka participated in the conspiracy from at least as early as April 1998 until at least April 2012.
“For more than a decade this conspiracy has raised the cost of importing cars and trucks into the United States,” said Assistant Attorney General Bill Baer for the Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division. “Today’s sentencing is a first step in our continuing efforts to ensure that the executives responsible for this misconduct are held accountable.”
The sentence was the first to be imposed against an individual in the division’s ocean shipping investigation, the DoJ said. Previously, three corporations have agreed to plead guilty and to pay criminal fines totaling more than USD 136 million, including Tanioka’s employer K-Line, which was sentenced to pay a criminal fine of USD 67.7 million in November 2014.
Tanioka was sentenced to serve an 18-month prison term and pay a USD 20,000 criminal fine for his participation in the conspiracy. In addition, Tanioka has agreed to assist the department in its ongoing investigation into the ocean shipping industry.