Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Justice Department Will Not Appeal Dismissal of Stolt-Nielsen Antitrust Indictment

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

The Department of Justice announced on December 21 that it will not appeal a federal district court's dismissal of an indictment against London-based Stolt-Nielsen S.A., two of its subsidiaries, and two company executives for conspiring to restrain trade in the parcel tanker shipping industry.

On November 29, 2007, the federal district court in Philadelphia dismissed the indictment, after ruling that the Department of Justice Antitrust Division's revocation of conditional leniency under the corporate leniency program was unfair (2007-2 CCH Trade Cases ¶75,962). The Justice Department failed to meet its burden of demonstrating that Stolt-Nielsen materially breached the cooperation agreement, according to the court.

In its statement, the Justice Department said that it was “disappointed with the ruling” but “respect[ed] the role of the court in making the factual determinations that support the decision that Stolt-Nielsen, two of its subsidiaries, and two executives did not breach the conditional leniency agreement.”

The Justice Department also noted that “Stolt-Nielsen is the only company that the Antitrust Division has ever sought to remove from its Corporate Leniency Program since the policy was first adopted in 1978 and then subsequently revised in 1993.”

The announcement was made in a December 21 news release, posted on the Department of Justice Antitrust Division's web site.

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