EU issues charge sheet against freight cartel

The European Commission said yesterday that it had sent a charge sheet – a so-called statement of objections – to a number of companies for their alleged participation in a freight-forwarding cartel.

"The European Commission has sent in February 2010 a statement of objections to a number of companies concerning their alleged participation in price-fixing cartels in the air freight forwarding business in violation of the EU antitrust rules," the EU executive said, without identifying the firms.

Swiss logistics group Panalpina confirmed that it had received the charge sheet. "It is not possible to predict the outcome of these proceedings at this stage. They may, however, result in material penalties being imposed on Panalpina entities," said the firm.

Rival Kuehne Nagel also confirmed that it had received a statement of objections from the regulator and would respond in due course. The Commission said in a statement that the investigation centred on allegations that the companies had fixed prices by colluding on the imposition, level, timing and application of various surcharges.

"The allegations concern four separate infringements involving the provision of freight forwarding services from the UK to outside the European economic area (EEA), from the EEA to the US, from China to the EEA and from Southern China/Hong Kong to the EEA," it said.

Sending a charge sheet is a formal step in Commission antitrust investigations in which it informs the parties concerned in writing of the objections raised against them. If found to have breached the rules, companies can face fines of up to 10 per cent of their annual turnover.

 

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