Wallenius Wilhelmsen pleads guilty to criminal cartel conduct

Norwegian-based global shipping company Wallenius Wilhelmsen Ocean AS (WWO) has today entered a guilty plea in the Federal Court to criminal cartel conduct.

After an ACCC investigation, on 23 August 2019 the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions (CDPP) charged WWO 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. 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 has been adjourned for sentencing at a later date.

As this is a criminal matter currently before the Federal Court, the ACCC will not provide any further comment at this time.

Note:

The ACCC investigates cartel conduct, manages the immunity process, takes proceedings in the Federal Court in respect of civil cartel contraventions, and refers serious cartel conduct to the CDPP for consideration for prosecution.

The CDPP is responsible for prosecuting criminal cartel offences, in accordance with the Prosecution Policy of the Commonwealth.

Background

This cartel has been investigated and prosecuted in a number of other jurisdictions, including the United States.

WWO is headquartered in Oslo with offices in Europe, Africa, Asia, the Americas, India, the Middle East, and Oceania (including Australia). WWO was previously known as Wallenius Wilhelmsen Logistics AS.

This is the third guilty plea in Australia in relation to this cartel. On 18 July 2016, Nippon Yusen Kabushiki Kaisha (NYK) pleaded guilty to criminal cartel conduct and was convicted and fined $25 million on 3 August 2017. Kawasaki Kisen Kaisha Ltd (K-Line) pleaded guilty to criminal cartel conduct on 5 April 2018 and was convicted and fined $34.5 million on 2 August 2019.

A cartel exists when businesses agree to act together instead of competing with each other. Cartel conduct can include price fixing, sharing markets, rigging bids and controlling the output or limiting the amount of goods and services.

Anyone with information about cartel conduct is urged to call the ACCC Cartel Hotline on (02) 9230 3894.

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