Norwegian shipping co pleads guilty to cartel behaviour

Norwegian shipping company Wallenius Wilhelmsen Ocean AS pleaded guilty on Thursday in an Australian Federal Court to charges of criminal cartel conduct.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) said that the charges related to the transportation of vehicles, including cars, trucks and buses, to Australia between June 2011 and July 2012,

Wallenius Wilhelmsen was charged with cartel conduct in August 2019, following action taken against two Japanese firms, which also pleaded guilty, were prosecuted for similar offences.

ACCC chairperson Rod Sims said that “this plea means the last of the cases in the long-running shipping cartel matters is now closer to being resolved”.

The case was still before the court.

Wallenius Wilhelmsen Ocean AS is owned by Norway-listed Wallenius Wilhelmsen ASA.

The company said that its subsidiary had “cooperated fully in the ACCC’s investigation into the car carrier industry, and we are glad to be moving towards the end of the process”.

It added that “Wallenius Wilhelmsen is committed to fair and open competition and will continue to observe the normal processes of the Federal court in this matter.”

The case was adjourned for sentencing to a later date.

Japan’s Nippon Yusen Kabushiki Kaisha (NYK) pleaded guilty to criminal cartel conduct in 2016 and was fined A$25m (US$17m). Kawasaki Kisen Kaisha Ltd (K-Line) pleaded guilty to criminal cartel conduct in 2018 and was fined A$34.5m.