The European Commission on Wednesday fined four shipping companies a total of 395 million euros for taking part in cartel relating to the transportation of new cars and other vehicles by sea in violation of EU competition laws.
In a statement, the Commission said it had imposed the fines on the roll-on/roll-off shipping companies CSAV, K-Line, NYK and WWL-EUKO for forming and participating in the cartel with the goal of aligning prices and dividing up customers to their benefit. A fifth shipping company, MOL, was also involved in the cartel but did not receive a fine because it had alerted the Commission to the cartel.
All five companies admitted to participation in the cartels and agreed to settle the cases.
“For almost six years, between October 2006 and September 2012, sales managers from these companies met at each other’s offices, in bars, restaurants and other social gatherings. They were also in contact over the phone on a regular basis,” the Commission said.
“In those discussions, the five companies coordinated prices, divided up customers between them and exchanged commercially sensitive information that could help them align their prices. Instead of competing, they gave each other a free hand on certain routes or with certain customers, by deliberately quoting high prices or not quoting at all in tenders by carmakers.”
In 2016, the five shipping companies involved in the cartel were responsible for transporting almost half of the ten million cars, trucks and other large vehicles that were shipped to or from Europe.