European Commission’s fines for air freight cartel formation upheld by EU Court of Justice

The EU Court of Justice has upheld the March 2012 decision of the EU Commission to fine a number of freight forwarding companies over cartel charges, dismissing an appeal lodged by companies located in Europe, Asia and the Far East.
In a statement, the EU’s top court said: “The Court of Justice rejects all the arguments put forward by those companies and upholds the amount of the fines imposed,”
The original fines of €169 million (US$ 203 million) related to a period of time between 2002 and 2007 when these companies participated in a number of agreements and concerted practices on the market for international air freight forwarding services.
The companies were responsible for providing services included the organization of transportation of items, and could also include activities such as customs clearance, warehousing or ground services, on behalf of customers according to their needs
The ‘new export system’ (NES) cartel concerned a pre-clearance system for exports from the U.K. to countries beyond the European Economic Area, which was introduced by the U.K. authorities in 2002. A group of freight forwarders agreed to introduce a surcharge for NES declarations.
The ‘currency adjustment factor’ (CAF) cartel was devised to achieve agreement on a common tariff strategy to mitigate a risk of a fall in profits owing to the decision of the People’s Bank of China in 2005 that it would no longer peg the Chinese currency (renminbi or RMB) to the United States dollar (USD). Several international freight forwarders opted to convert all contracts with their customers into renminbi and to introduce a CAF surcharge, setting the amount.
The companies originally fined included, but was not limited to, logistics groups Kuehne & Nagel, Panalpina, Schenker, Deutsche Bahn, UPS Supply Chain Solutions and DHL Global Forwarding (UK) Ltd.

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