Singapore fines Japanese agents S$7 million for price fixing

A cartel of mostly Japanese freight forwarders handling shipments from Japan to Singapore have been fined over S$7 million (4.3 million euros) for price fixing, AsiaOne has reported.

Singapore’s leading news portal AsiaOne was first to detail the fines  /  company courtesy
Singapore’s leading news portal AsiaOne was first to detail the fines / company courtesy

´The newspaper quoted the Competition Commission of Singapore (CCS) as saying in a statement that 11 companies were fixing prices and exchanging price and customer information concerning air freight forwarding services on the Japan-Singapore sector.

The statement also said that of the 11 agents, DHL escaped being penalised because it qualified for full immunity under CCS's leniency programme. The programme offers either immunity from or a reduction in financial penalties in exchange for full disclosure of the cartel and cooperation during CCS' investigation.

Two freight forwarders were fined over $1 million: Nippon Express was handed a financial penalty of S$2,072,386, while Yusen was fined S$2,035,995. Among the other agents incurring fines were Kintetsu World Express, Hankyu Hanshin and Yamato.

CCS Chief Executive, Toh Han Li, was quoted as saying that "Price fixing among competitors (thus forming a cartel) is considered one of the most harmful types of anti-competitive conduct. It distorts the terms of trade between the cartelists and their customers, with the latter not being able to enjoy competitively determined rates. He added that: "As an open economy, Singapore businesses are vulnerable to such international cartels."

The price fixing case in Singapore follows the recent legal action by Germany-based logistics provider Deutsche Bahn Schenker, which earlier this month started legal proceedings in both New York and Cologne, Germany, seeking damages of US$2.5 billion from several major international airlines.

The logistics company alleged that Air France KLM, Martinair, Lufthansa, British Airways, Singapore Airlines, Swiss Airlines, Cargolux, SAS, Air Canada, Cathay Pacific, Japan Airlines, All Nippon Airways, LAN Airlines and Qantas were involved in fixing fuel and security surcharges from 1999 until 2006.

In 2012, DB Schenker itself was fined 35 million euros by the European Commission for collusive price fixing.

Nol van Fenema

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