Superintendence investigates international cartel of maritime transportation of automobiles
The General Superintendence of the Administrative Council for Economic Defense – CADE opened, on February 23 2016, administrative proceeding to investigate an alleged international cartel, with effects in Brazil, in the market of maritime transportation of automobiles – done by ships of the type Roll On Roll Off (RoRo).
The companies under investigation are Compañia Sud Americana de Vapores S/A, Eukor Car Carriers Inc., Grimaldi Group SpA, Hoegh Autoliners Holdings AS, Kawasaki Kisen Kaisha, Mitsui O.S.K. Lines, Nippon Yusen Kaisha, Nissan Motor Car Carriers Co, Ltd, and Wallenius Wilhelmsen Logistics (Administrative Proceeding No. 08700.001094/2016-24, related to the restrict file No. 08700.005699/2014-22).
The RoRo is a kind of ship specialized in the transportation of cargo that can go on board by its own through ramps. The cargo can be transported on roads (automobiles, buses, trucks, tractors etc) or on vehicles (carts, platforms etc).
According to the General Superintendence, there is robust evidence that the anticompetitive conduct would have been practiced by the largest companies of maritime transportation of the world. The alleged conduct would have the objective to allocate clients, in such a way to keep the established position for each company with its main client, as well as to maintain or increase prices, also with combined resistance to clients’ solicitations for prices reductions.
Some of the investigated practices would have occurred in Brazil. Other practices, although have taken place abroad, would have the potential to affect the Brazilian territory, because of involved routes that had Brazil as its origin or destiny and/or routes that had the country as stopover.
According to the General Superintendence´s technical opinion, the practices would have been practiced by at least 80 individuals related to the investigated companies and would have been implemented by means of face-to-face meetings, phone calls and exchange of e-mails.
The alleged anticompetitive conducts would have begun in 1978, but the most noticeable actions of the alleged cartel would have occurred since 2000 and lasted until possibly 2012, when the Antitrust Division of the US Department of Justice, the European Commission and the Japanese competition authorities conducted search and seize operations in the headquarters of several involved companies.
On November 25 2015, CADE’s Tribunal approved a Cease and Desist Agreement (TCC in its acronym in Portuguese) signed with Nippon, Compañia Sud Americana de Vapores and Kawasaki (click here to see the minutes of the judgment session). On February 3 2016, through a CADE´s Presidential Order, 13 individuals joined the TCC signed by Nippon.
The administrative proceeding will be suspended in relation to the companies who signed the TCC until the final judgment of the case. By the agreements, there will be collected more than BRL 29 million to the Diffuse Rights Fund (FDD in its acronym in Portuguese).
With the opening of the administrative proceeding, the investigated parties will be notified to present their defenses. At the end of the evidentiary stage, the General Superintendence will issue a technical opinion either for the condemnation or the closing of the case, and will send it to be judged by CADE’s Tribunal, which is responsible for the final decision.