Two Japanese airfreight forwarders have agreed to plead guilty and pay $18.9 million in criminal fines for their roles in conspiring to fix fees on airfreight services from Japan to the United States, the Department of Justice (DOJ) said today.
According to charges filed separately today in federal district court in Washington, D.C., the companies conspired to fix and impose certain freight forwarding service fees, including fuel surcharges and security fees, for work performed from September 2002 to at least November 2007, the agency said.
According to the charges, the companies discussed implementing these fees in meetings and then agreed to coordinate their implementation in the marketplace.
"Consumers were forced to pay higher prices on the goods they buy every day as a result of the noncompetitive and collusive service fees charged by these companies," said Bill Baer, assistant attorney general and the official in charge of the Justice Department's antitrust division.
Today's actions are the latest in a multi-year, multi-agency investigation into behavior in the international air cargo trade that has resulted in 16 companies either pleading guilty or agreeing to plead guilty to price-fixing allegations, the agency said. To date, the inquiry has resulted in the payment of more than $120 million in fines, the DOJ said.