The Australian Federal Court announced that Nippon Yusen Kabushiki Kaisha (NYK) has been convicted of criminal cartel conduct and is ordered to pay a fine of $25 million, which is the second-highest imposed in ACCC history. Following an extensive investigation, NYK was charged of giving effect to cartel provisions in an arrangement or understanding with other shipping lines relating to the transportation of motor vehicles to Australia between 2009 and 2012.
The cartel operated from at least February 1997 and affected vehicles transported to Australia by NYK and other shipping lines from locations in Asia, the US and Europe on behalf of major car manufacturers including Nissan, Suzuki, Honda, Toyota and Mazda.
ACCC Chairman Rod Sims welcomed the Federal Court’s decision and Justice Wigney said that without the NYK’s cooperation on the matter, the fine would have been even bigger.
Justice Wigney stated the fine “incorporates a global discount of 50% for NYK’s early plea of guilty and past and future assistance and cooperation, together with the contrition inherent in the early plea and cooperation: meaning that but for the early plea and past and future cooperation, the fine would have been $50 million”.
In this case, the maximum penalty was calculated on the basis of 10 per cent of NYK’s annual turnover in connection with Australia, in the 12 months prior to the commencement of the offence. On that basis, NYK’s conduct attracted a maximum penalty of $100 million.
“The sentence imposed on NYK by the Federal Court today sends a strong warning to the industry and the business community at large. The CDPP and ACCC can and will criminally prosecute cartel conduct. It also highlights that parties who engage early and cooperate with the authorities may be shown leniency,” Mr Sims said.