Norwegian-based global shipping company Wallenius Wilhelmsen Ocean AS (WWO) became the latest company to enter a guilty plea to the long-standing criminal cartel case in Australia.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), among other jurisdictions around the world, has been investigating and prosecuting an alleged cartel formed in connection with the transportation of vehicles, including cars, trucks, and buses. The case stems from charges that the businesses agreed to act together instead of competing with each other forming an illegal cartel. Under the law, cartel conduct can include price fixing, sharing markets, rigging bids, and controlling the output, or limiting the amount of goods and services.
After an ACCC investigation, Wallenius was charged on August 23, 2019, with cartel conduct regarding the transportation of vehicles, including cars, trucks, and buses, to Australia between June 2011 and July 2012.
“We are pleased that by entering a guilty plea, WWO has acknowledged its role in this criminal cartel,” said ACCC Chair Rod Sims. “This plea means the last of the cases in the long-running shipping cartel matters is now closer to being resolved.”
Previously, in 2016, Nippon Yusen Kabushiki Kaisha (NYK) plead guilty to criminal cartel conduct also related to the shipment of vehicles and was convicted and fined A$25 million. In 2018, Kawasaki Kisen Kaisha Ltd (K-Line) also plead guilty to criminal cartel conduct and was convicted and fined A$34.5 million.
Wallenius so far has not commented on its guilty plea, but last year at the time the charges were referred to the court, they said, “The company is cooperating with the ACCC in this investigation and will continue to work with the normal processes of the court to bring this to a conclusion.”
The case against Wallenius has been adjourned for sentencing at a later date.