"K" LINE's former car carrier chief Hiroshige Tanioka will serve an 18-month sentence in a US prison and pay a US$20,000 fine for conspiring to fix ro-ro rates among carriers from 1998 to 2012.
"For more than a decade this conspiracy has raised the cost of importing cars and trucks into the United States," said assistant attorney general Bill Baer.
"Today's sentencing is a first step in our continuing efforts to ensure that the executives responsible for this misconduct are held accountable," he said.
The sentence was the first against an individual in the department's international ro-ro ocean shipping investigation, reported American Shipper, adding that it was one-count felony charge filed in US District Court in Baltimore.
The three companies implicated have agreed to plead guilty and pay fines totalling more than US$136 million with "K" Line paying, $67.7 million, NYK paying $59.4 million and CSAV paying $8.9 million.
Tanioka, of Yokohama, was charged under the Sherman Act, which carries a maximum sentence of 10 years and a $1 million fine for an individual.
Specifically, he has confessed to attending meetings and engaged in discussions on bids and tenders for shipping services, and agreed with others to allocate customers and not compete for each other businesses.
He also confessed to agreeing with confederates not to compete against each other and refrain from bidding or agree on prices for tenders and provide shipping at non-competitive rates.
The maximum fine may be increased to twice the gain derived from the crime or twice the loss suffered by the victims of the crime, if either of those amounts is greater than the statutory maximum fine.
Source : HKSG.