European Commission fines car carriers in cartel settlements

Image: Mitsui OSK Lines’ CESI Wenzhou.
Image: Mitsui OSK Lines’ CESI Wenzhou.

The European Commission has fined four maritime car carriers a total of €395 million (US$486 million) for taking part in cartels, in breach of EU anti-trust rules.

Commissioner Margrethe Vestager said all companies acknowledged their involvement in the cartels and agreed to settle the cases.

The commission found the Chilean maritime carrier CSAV, Japanese carriers K Line, Mitsui OSK Lines (MOL) and NYK Line, and the Norwegian-Swedish carrier WWL-EUKOR participated in a cartel from October 2006 to September 2012 for deep-sea transport of new cars, trucks and other large on various routes between Europe and other continents.

The investigation revealed they coordinated prices, allocated customers and exchanged commercially sensitive information about elements of the price, such as charges and surcharges added to prices, to offset currency or oil prices fluctuations.

In 2016, 3.4 million motor vehicles were imported from non-EU countries, while the EU exported more than 6.3 million vehicles to non-EU countries in 2016. Almost half of these vehicles were transported by the fined carriers.

The investigation, which co-operated with competition authorities in Australia, Canada, Japan and the US, started with an immunity application submitted by MOL.

MOL received full immunity for revealing the existence of the cartel, thereby avoiding a €203 million fine. CSAV, K Line, NYK and WWL-EUKOR received reduced fines for their co-operation.

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