Norwegian car carrier Höegh Autoliners has reached a settlement with the US Department of Justice (DOJ) over price-fixing charges and will pay USD 21 million fine related to the US to Middle East exports.
“The investigation, covering the period 2001-2012, has been concluded, and Höegh Autoliners has agreed on a settlement with the DOJ. Höegh Autoliners will pay USD 21 million in fines related to the US to Middle East exports,” the car carrier said in a statement to World Maritime News.
“Höegh Autoliners has cooperated fully with the authorities,” a statement from the company further read.
In September 2012, DOJ began investigations into the car carrier industry and ocean shipping services to and from the US. Höegh Autoliners was one of several shipping companies included in the investigation.
“Höegh Autoliners takes the Department of Justice’s conclusion very seriously, and we deeply regret the incidents occurred,” says Leif Høegh, Chairman of Höegh Autoliners.
“We would like to extend our sincere apologies to customers, personnel and other stakeholders. Höegh Autoliners is committed to fair and lawful business practice. Actions have been taken to strengthen our efforts to meet the highest ethical standards, and we will continue to reinforce our compliance activities throughout our organization.”
Authorities in China, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand and South Korea have concluded their antitrust investigations and have not imposed fines on Höegh Autoliners for antitrust violations.
“Höegh Autoliners will continue to cooperate with authorities in the jurisdictions that have yet to conclude their investigations,” the company said.
Earlier this month, the Norwegian car shipping company was referred to the Competition Tribunal of South Africa for prosecution on seven charges relating to collusive tendering, price fixing and market division.
Höegh Autoliners was accused of colluding with Japan’s Mitsui O.S.K Lines Ltd (MOL) from around 2009, when the two companies allegedly engaged in prohibited practices in that they agreed and/or engaged in concerted practices as competitors to fix prices, divide markets and tender collusively.
The company said it would contest the charges.