Miami, Florida - Dip Shipping Company LLC, a Louisiana-based freight forwarder, has agreed to plead guilty to an antitrust charge for its role in a conspiracy to fix prices of freight forwarding services sold to customers in the United States and elsewhere, the Department of Justice announced. Under the terms of its plea agreement, Dip Shipping agreed to pay a $488,250 criminal fine.
According to a one-count felony charge filed Tuesday in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida in Miami, Dip Shipping conspired with other providers of freight forwarding services to fix, raise and maintain prices charged to customers from September 2010 until at least March 2015. According to court documents, Dip Shipping and its co-conspirators met in the United States and elsewhere to discuss and agree to fix prices. Freight forwarders arrange for and manage the shipment of goods, including receiving, packaging and otherwise preparing cargo destined for international ocean shipment. Dip Shipping is the first company to be charged and to agree to plead guilty in the Justice Department’s ongoing investigation in the freight forwarding industry. The plea agreement is subject to court approval.
As a result of this ongoing federal investigation, Dip Shipping executives Roberto Dip and Jason Handal earlier had pleaded guilty to price fixing. Dip and Handal were sentenced in June 2019 to 18-month and 15-month terms of imprisonment, respectively, for their roles in the conspiracy.
“Dip Shipping and its executives and co-conspirators sought to profit by cheating some of the most vulnerable American consumers,” said Assistant Attorney General Makan Delrahim of the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division. “The Sherman Act provides for prosecution of both individuals and the companies on whose behalf they act. Today’s charge is further proof that crime does not pay and that we will prosecute those who conspire to violate the antitrust laws to the fullest extent of the law.”
“The FBI remains committed to upholding the Constitution and protecting the American people,” said Acting Special Agent in Charge Anthony Riedlinger of the FBI New Orleans Field Office. “Throughout this investigation the men and women of the FBI, in conjunction with the Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division, were focused on holding accountable those who illegally profited from U.S. consumers. Let today’s plea serve as a stern warning to all companies seeking to defraud the American people, that price fixing will be aggressively investigated and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”
A criminal violation of Section 1 of the Sherman Act carries a maximum fine of $100 million 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.
The ongoing investigation into price fixing in the international freight forwarding industry is being conducted by the Antitrust Division’s Washington Criminal I Section and the FBI’s New Orleans Field Office. Anyone with information in connection with this investigation is urged to call the Antitrust Division’s Washington Criminal I Section at 202-307-6694, visit www.justice.gov/atr/contact/newcase.html or call the FBI tip line at 415-553-7400.