Shipping Majors Cleared in US Cartel Investigation

Mediterranean Shipping Company vesselIllustration. Image Courtesy: Pixabay under CC0 Creative Commons license

The U.S. Department of Justice has closed a two-year investigation into alleged price fixing by a group of major container shipping lines.

The investigation, which was unveiled in March 2017, was closed without filing charges or imposing fines. The process started when U.S. officials walked into a meeting of the industry’s 20 biggest companies and handed out subpoenas to top executives at several companies, including Danish giant Maersk, Swiss Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC) and Hong Kong-based Orient Overseas Container Line (OOCL).

“This is an important decision where the global container shipping industry has, once again, been fully investigated and exonerated. MSC is pleased to move forward, now that this matter is closed,” the world’s second largest carrier told World Maritime News.

Maersk also confirmed that the U.S. DOJ closed the investigation into containerized shipping and released the company from any obligations under the Grand Jury subpoenas issued during the March 2017 meeting of the International Council of Containership Operators.

“Maersk provided its full cooperation to the DOJ throughout the investigation, and we believe the DOJ’s decision to release Maersk reflects our strong commitment to competition compliance governance and structures over the years,” Camilla Jain Holtse, Head of Competition Law & Policy, A.P. Moller – Maersk, said.

“We will continue to foster effective compliance through training and supporting our employees, monitoring our activities, and working cooperatively with authorities on regulatory matters whenever relevant,” Holtse added.

Furthermore, OOCL’s Stephen Ng, Director of Trades, confirmed that that company was notified about the development, adding that OOCL is “pleased to see that the case has been dropped.”

The probe was launched amid concerns over possible anti-competitive behavior by container shipping companies after the carriers asked the U.S. Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) for approval to form the Ocean and THE alliances.

World Maritime News Staff

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