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Japanese Shipping Company Rolls Over, Pleads Guilty to Price Fixing

On September 26, 2014 Japanese transportation company Kawasaki Kisen Kaisha Ltd. (K-Line) agreed to plead guilty to price fixing, bid rigging and allocating customers for international ocean shipping services for “roll-on, roll-off” cargo. K-Line will be fined $67.7 million. Roll-on, roll-off cargo is a special type of ocean shipping for cars, trucks, agricultural and construction equipment, and other objects that can be rolled on and rolled off a vessel. Roll-on, roll-off cargo does not involve shipping containers. K-Line pleaded guilty to one count—a violation of Section One of the Sherman Act. The plea agreement states K-Line participated in the conspiracy from at least February 1997 until at least September 2012. The conspiracy involved customers and shipping routes both to and from the United States at the Port of Baltimore and other ports. The conspiracy regarding roll-on, roll-off ocean shipping involved only deep-sea (or trans-ocean) shipping. It did...

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Auction Rigger Enters Guilty Plea

A thirty-seventh individual pleaded guilty to participating in a conspiracy to rig bids and commit mail fraud at public real estate foreclosure auctions in Northern California.  The guilty plea, entered on Monday, November 4, is yet another victory for the Department of Justice (DOJ) Antitrust Division in its ongoing investigations into a bid rigging and mail fraud conspiracy that took place from 2007 to 2011. According to the DOJ, the conspirators arranged winning bidders for specific public real estate foreclosure auctions in several California counties.  After acquiring the properties at sub-competitive prices, the conspirators then conducted a second, private auction only open to members of the bid rigging ring.  The difference in the private auction price and public auction price could then be used for payoffs to the conspiracy members.  Had the public auctions been competitive and free from bid rigging, however, that same money taken by the conspiracy...

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Alleged Agreement Between Chesapeake Energy and EnCana Corporation to Suppress Prices for Mineral Rights Highlights the Antitrust Risks Facing Energy Companies

by Jon B. Dubrow and Shauna A. Barnes Recently published reports of land acquisition activities between Chesapeake Energy and EnCana senior executives will likely expose those companies to a Department of Justice (DOJ) antitrust investigation and challenge, as well as, if accurate, civil antitrust claims.  This matter highlights the risks that energy companies face when discussing lease arrangements with their competitors.  Joint Bidding or Bid Rigging for Property Rights Can Violate the Antitrust Laws In February 2012, DOJ settled its first challenge to a bidding agreement for mineral rights, alleging that agreements between Gunneson Energy Corporation and SGI Interests to bid jointly for government mineral leases were anticompetitive.  In a previous post, we explained the potential issues and pitfalls related to joint bidding for oil and gas properties.  We suggested various factors that companies can use to assess, or manage, their...

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Coastal Water Freight Transportation Company Pleads Guilty and Pays $45 Million Fine for Price-Fixing

by Nicole L. Castle Today the Department of Justice announced that Horizon Lines LLC agreed to plead guilty and pay a $45 million fine for its involvement in price fixing coastal water freight services between the continental U.S. and Puerto Rico.  This plea is the result of an ongoing federal antitrust investigation into price fixing and bid rigging in the coastal water freight transportation industry.  As a result of the investigation, five former executives have been charged and sentenced to serve prison time.     For additional information, please visit:

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