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Three Japanese shipping executives indicted for price fixing

Three Japanese shipping executives indicted for price fixing
Three former Japanese shipping executives have been indicted in the US for participating in a long-running price fixing conspiracy, according to the US Department of Justice.

The executives, Yoshiyuki Aoki formerly of Nippon Yusen Kaisha (NYK), Masahiro Kato and Shunichi Kusunose formerly of Kawasaki Kisen Kaisha (K Line), have been charged with allocating customers and routes, rigging bids and fixing prices for the sale of international shipments of ro-ro cargo to and from the US and elsewhere.

The affected cargo included cars, trucks, construction equipment and agricultural equipment.

The three former executives are among seven who have been charged in the investigation so far. Four have pleaded guilty and been sentenced to prison, the Department of Justice said.

NYK, K Line and one other company have also pleaded guilty and paid more than $136m in criminal fines.

“The companies and executives who conspired to restrict competition and raise prices for shipping these products must be held accountable,” said assistant attorney General Bill Baer of the antitrust division.

“We previously charged NYK and K Line for their role in this long-running conspiracy. Today we are continuing our effort to ensure that the executives at those companies who orchestrated the ocean shipping conspiracy face the consequences as well.”

Special agent in charge Kevin Perkins of the FBI’s Baltimore Division, said: “Our job is to protect victims who don’t see these crimes occurring, but who always end up paying the price.”

The indictment charges Aoki with participating in the conspiracy from at least as early as 2001 until at least September 2012; Kato with participating from at least as early as April 2002 until at least September 2012; and Kusunose with participating from at least as early as April 2004 until at least September 2012.