WASHINGTON — Compañía Sud Americana de Vapores S.A.  (CSAV), a Chilean corporation,  has agreed to plead guilty and to pay an $8.9 million criminal fine for its  involvement in a conspiracy to fix prices, allocate customers and rig bids of  international ocean shipping services for roll-on, roll-off cargo, such as cars  and trucks, to and from the United States and elsewhere, the Department of  Justice announced today.

According to a one-count felony charge filed today in U.S. District Court  for the District of Maryland in Baltimore, CSAV engaged in a conspiracy to  suppress and eliminate competition by allocating customers and routes, rigging  bids and fixing prices for the sale of international ocean shipping services of  roll-on, roll-off cargo to and from the United States and elsewhere, including  the Port of Baltimore.  CSAV participated  in the conspiracy from at least January 2000 to September 2012.  CSAV has also agreed to cooperate with the department’s  ongoing antitrust investigation.  The  plea agreement is subject to court approval.

Roll-on, roll-off cargo is non-containerized cargo that can be both  rolled onto and rolled off of an ocean-going vessel.  Examples of this cargo include new and used cars  and trucks, as well as construction, mining and agricultural equipment.

“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 its co-conspirators carried out the conspiracy by, among other  things, agreeing – during meetings and communications – on prices, allocating  customers, agreeing to refrain from bidding against one another and exchanging  customer pricing information.  The  department said the companies then charged fees in accordance with those  agreements for international ocean shipping services for certain roll-on,  roll-off cargo to and from the United States and elsewhere at collusive and  non-competitive prices.

CSAV is charged with price fixing in violation of the Sherman Act,  which carries a maximum penalty of a $100 million criminal fine for  corporations.  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.

Today’s charge is the result of an ongoing federal antitrust  investigation into price fixing, bid rigging, and other anticompetitive conduct  in the international ocean shipping industry, which is being conducted by the  Antitrust Division’s National Criminal Enforcement Section and the FBI’s  Baltimore Field Office, along with assistance from the U.S. Customs and Border  Protection, Office of Internal Affairs, Washington Field Office/Special  Investigations Unit.   Anyone with information in connection with  this investigation is urged to call the Antitrust Division’s National Criminal  Enforcement Section at 202-307-6694, visit,  or call the FBI’s Baltimore Field Office at 410-265-8080.