Prosecutors indict two auto-shipping companies

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Prosecutors indict two auto-shipping companies

Prosecutors said Tuesday they indicted two international auto-shipping companies for fixing bid prices for sea transportations of Korean-made automobiles.

Japan-based Nippon Yusen Kabushiki Kaisha, also known as the Japan Mail Shipping Line, and the Seoul-based multinational Eukor Car Carriers Inc. have been charged with colluding with a few other firms in setting the price and taking turns so that all of them could win the bidding at least once, according to the Seoul Central District Prosecutors’ Office.

Korea’s anti-trust watchdog had investigated a total of nine freight shipping firms involved in the scheme and slapped them with 43 billion won ($38 million) in fines in August. It referred the case to the prosecution last week.

The prosecution said it indicted only two of them, citing the leniency program and expiry of the statute of limitations applied to the others.

Car carriers from Japan, Norway, Chile, Israel and Korea are accused of having formed such a cartel for about 10 years. The price fixing was largely made for North America, Europe and Mediterranean-bound routes from Korea, it added.

Korea’s top automaker Hyundai Motor Co. and its affiliate Kia Motors Corp. are known to be their key clients. Eukor Car Carriers is 20 percent owned by the two automakers.

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