Japanese operator Kawasaki Kisen Kaisha Ltd (K-Line) has been convicted of criminal cartel conduct and ordered to pay an A$34.5m fine by Australia’s Federal Court for fixing prices on the transport of cars, trucks, and buses to Australia between 2009 and 2012.
K-Line’s fine is the largest-ever criminal penalty imposed under Australia’s Competition and Consumer Act, according to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC).
K-Line pleaded guilty following an extensive criminal investigation by the local competition authorities. The cartel operated from at least February 1997 and impacted the transport prices of cars, trucks, and buses to Australia from the US, Asia and various European countries.
K-Line, and other shipping lines transported these vehicles on behalf of major car manufacturers including Nissan, Suzuki, Honda, Toyota and Isuzu and others.
'Cartel conduct, such as that engaged in by K-line, not only cheats consumers and other businesses through inflated prices and costs, but also restricts healthy economic growth and discourages innovation,' ACCC chair Rod Sims said.