Specifically, the two defendants, Ingar Skiaker and Øyvind Ervik, are ex-top executives at Höegh Autoliners AS, which has pleaded guilty and been sentenced to pay a $21 million fine.

In addition, in light of this condition, 13 executives have also been charged in the investigation; Four have pleaded guilty and have been sentenced to serve prison terms, whereas others remain international fugitives. Except Höegh, five more companies have also been found guilty for their roles in this situation, resulting to the overall criminal fines over $255 million.

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Moreover, the indictment supports that, from 2006 and until September 2012, Skiaker and Ervik conspired with their competitors to allocate certain customers and routes for the shipment of cars and trucks. The defendants accomplished their scheme by, among other things, attending meetings during which they agreed not to compete against each other, and by refraining from bidding or by agreeing on the prices they would bid for certain customers and routes.

Thus, both companies agreed with competitors to fix, stabilize, and maintain rates charged to customers of international ocean shipping services.  The customers affected by the conspiracy included U.S. companies.

Special Agent in Charge Jennifer C. Boone for the FBI Baltimore Field Office commented

The schemes that took place in perpetuating this long-running conspiracy show a clear indifference for the free market, and a willful disregard for the law. The indictment unsealed today advances the Division’s mission to restore and promote open competition.  Höegh has already pleaded guilty, and now we must ensure that its executives will be held accountable.

An indictment merely alleges that crimes have been committed, and all defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.