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Freight forwarders hit with €169 million penalty for cartels fixing surcharges and charging mechanisms

 |  March 28, 2012

The European Commission has fined 14 international freight forwarders for operating four price-fixing cartels from 2002 to 2007. The cartels coordinated surcharges and charging mechanisms for international air freight forwarding services with regard to important trade lanes, such as Europe to the United States, and China to Europe. The cartel participants went to lengths to conceal their activity, including assigning code names based on vegetables under a “Gardening Club” contact list.

The four cartels are categorized as the New Export System cartel (establishing a reporting surcharge for the U.K.’s electronic declaration service for European exports), the Advanced Manifest System cartel (creating a surcharge for the processing of a U.S. customs requirement to provide advance information on imports), the Currency Adjustment Factor cartel (shifting contracts from USD to RMB when the Chinese currency appreciated against the U.S. dollar for Chinese/Hong Kong imports), and the Peak Season Surcharge cartel (introducing a surcharge for a September to December peak period for imports from China and Hong Kong).

The groups were fined a combined total of 169 million euros. Under the leniency program, Deutsche Post and its subsidiaries DHL and Exel received full immunity from fines for being the first to report the cartel to the Commission.

Full content: EC Press Release


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