Monday, April 21, 2008

Japan Airlines Agrees to Plead Guilty to Fixing Cargo Shipping Prices

This posting was written by Jeffrey May, Editor of CCH Trade Regulation Reporter.

Japan Airlines International Co. Ltd. has joined the list of other global air carriers—including British Airways Plc., Korean Air Lines, and Quantas Airways Limited—that have admitted to participating in a conspiracy to fix rates for international cargo shipments.

According to a one-count information, filed in the federal district court in Washington, D.C., Japan Airlines International (JAL) engaged in a conspiracy to eliminate competition by fixing the rates for international shipments of cargo to and from the United States and elsewhere between April 2000 and February 2006.

During the time period covered by the felony charge, JAL was the largest carrier of cargo between the United States and Japan and earned almost $2 billion from its cargo flights to and from the United States, it was alleged.

“This pice-fixing conspiracy inflicted a heavy toll on American businesses and consumers,” said Thomas O. Barnett, Assistant Attorney General in charge of the Department of Justice Antitrust Division. “Japan Airlines is the fourth carrier to admit to its involvement in this cartel and to agree to cooperate with an ongoing investigation.”

Last August, British Airways and Korean Air Lines pleaded guilty to similar charges and were each fined $300million. Earlier this year, Quantas pleaded guilty and was sentenced to pay a $61 million criminal fine for its role in the price fixing conspiracy.

The U.S. antritrust case is Japan Airlines International Co. Ltd., U.S. No. 4932, CCH Trade Regulation Reports ¶45,108. Further details appear here on the Department of Justice website.

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