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WASHINGTON, D.C.: The U.S. Department of Justice has fined Chilean carrier Compañía Sud Americana de Vapores S.A. (CSAV) US$8.9 million in contravention of the anti-trust Sherman Act.CSAV Rio Illapel 470

The fine follows CSAV pleading guilty to conspiring to fix prices for car carrying services to and from the U.S., including the port of Baltimore.

CSAV, currently the signatory to an MoU for an IPO with Hapag-Lloyd, was charged with suppressing and eliminating competition by rigging bids, allocating customers and price-fixing between January 2000 and September 2012.

"Today's charges are the first to be filed in the antitrust division's investigation into bid rigging and price fixing of ocean shipping services," said Bill Baer, assistant attorney general in charge of the Department of Justice's Antitrust Division. "Because of the growth in the automobile ocean shipping industry over the past 40 years, the conspiracy substantially affected interstate and foreign commerce. Prosecuting international price-fixing conspiracies remains a top priority for the division."

According to the charge CSAV, and as yet unnamed co-conspirators, agreed on prices, allocated customers, refrained from bidding against one another and exchanged customer-pricing information. The companies then charged fees based on the agreements at "collusive and non-competitive prices".

The Department of Justice antitrust investigation of the international ocean shipping industry is ongoing. CSAV has agreed to cooperate.

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