In the case of CDPP v Kawasaki Kisen Kaisha Ltd  FCA 1170 (2 August 2019), the Federal Court of Australia has found Japanese shipping company Kawasaki Kisen Kaisha Ltd (“K-Line”) guilty of cartel conduct, and has imposed a fine of $34.5 million. It is understood the fine is the largest ever criminal fine imposed under the Competition and Consumer Act 2010 (Cth).
K-Line is based in Tokyo and supplies global shipping services, including the roll-on, roll-off shipment of motor vehicles, trucks, buses, commercial vehicles, agricultural equipment and construction equipment, including on routes to and from Australia.
Afrom the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (“ACCC”) states:
Following an extensive criminal investigation by the ACCC and the laying of charges by the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions (“CDPP”), K-Line subsequently pleaded guilty to the charges on 5 April 2018.
The cartel provisions to which K-Line was a party related to the supply of shipping services to 11 major vehicle manufacturers as well as five shipping routes for vehicles to Australia, being routes from India, Thailand, Japan, Indonesia and South Korea. The cartel provisions covered the contract years 2010 to 2012.
On publication of the judgment,commented:
K-Line’s conduct was punishable by a maximum penalty of $100 million, based on 10 percent of K-Line’s agreed annual turnover relating to Australian business activities in the 12 months prior to the commencement of the offence.
In arriving at the penalty, the Court allowed for a discount of 28 percent for K-Line’s early guilty plea, and for their level of assistance and co-operation. The Court considered these elements as signs of contrition, with Wigney J noting [paras 411-412]:
K-Line was sentenced for onecriminal charge (a “rolled-up” charge is where more than one offence forms part of the charge) of giving effect to cartel provisions.
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Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions v Kawasaki Kisen Kaisha Ltd  FCA 1170 (2 August 2019)
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