|aviainform | Compliance SAI||| Print ||
For several years now, air cargo carriers and forwarders have been the focus of antitrust regulators around the world for their alleged involvement in cartel schemes.
In November 2010, the European Commission imposed fines on 11 carriers totalling €799 million for fixing surcharges. At least 12 forwarders are now being investigated by the Commission for rate-related cartel offenses. These are not stand-alone investigations: The US Justice Department and other national competition authorities have launched their own investigations into these activities, and there are related civil and class actions pending in various jurisdictions. In the U.S., treble damages are available against cartelists. When the costs to the company in terms of fines, damages, lost management time, legal fees and injury to reputation are factored in, it is clear that a company may suﬀer substantially or even irreparably for its involvement in a cartel.
In addition, the executives of the companies concerned face serious jail time. The real possibility of imprisonment now exists, for example, in the US, the UK, and South Africa--a clear game-changer for the employees concerned, aﬀecting career, marriage, family and friendships. Keith Packer, a former BA Cargo executive who served 8 months in a US prison for his involvement in the alleged airfreight cartel, now speaks on the conference circuit to debunk (in his own words) the notions that "this would never happen to me," and that "compliance training is just another boring lecture from Legal."
Cartel enforcement is now "the" top priority of all the major antitrust enforcers. The high priority given to cartel enforcement is evidenced by ever rising ﬁnes, particularly EU ﬁnes. In the EU, ﬁnes are capped at 10% of global group sales, but increasingly, ﬁnes are reaching this cap. The record was set in the 2008 Car Glass decision, in which one company was ﬁned €896 million.
Carriers and forwarders should not be lulled into a false sense of complacency. Various industries have been subject to repeated cartel investigations, and the air transport sector will not be given a free pass. Those carriers and forwarders investigated a second time face the real prospect of being labelled a repeat offender, which, in the EU, entitles the Commission to increase the company fine by 100%. You can do the math....
For these reasons, the adoption of an antitrust compliance program is absolutely essential to reduce antitrust risk. If you have not yet a structured compliance policy in place or if your employees have not undertaken a compliance training, we strongly suggest to read this broschure for more details.
For more details on individual carriers and/or forwarders, use our extensive search function here