Norwegian-based shipping company Wallenius Wilhelmsen Ocean AS is likely facing millions of dollars in fines after pleading guilty today in Australian federal court to criminal cartel conduct.
Wallenius Wilhelmsen Ocean AS, a subsidiary of Wallenius Wilhelmsen ASA, was charged in August 2019 following an investigation by the Australian Competition and Consumer
Commission (ACCC) alleging criminal cartel conduct relating to the transportation of vehicles to Australia between June 2011 and July 2012.
Wallenius Wilhelmsen is now third guilty plea in relation to the long-standing cartel investigation involving multiple international shipping companies.
In July 2016, Japan-based Nippon Yusen Kabushiki Kaisha, aka NYK, pleaded guilty to criminal cartel conduct and fined $25 million in August 2017. In April 2018, Kawasaki Kisen Kaisha, aka K-Line, also of Japan, pleaded guilty to criminal cartel conduct and was later fined $34.5 million.
“We are pleased that by entering a guilty plea, WWO has acknowledged its role in this criminal cartel. This plea means the last of the cases in the long-running shipping cartel matters is now closer to being resolved,” ACCC Chair Rod Sims said.
The case involving Wallenius Wilhelmsen has been adjourned for sentencing at a later date.
A cartel exists when businesses agree to act together instead of competing with each other, and can include conduct such as price fixing, sharing markets, rigging bids and controlling the output or limiting the amount of goods and services.