EU’s Court of Justice upholds fines on Kuehne & Nagel, Deutsche Bahn, others for cartels in the air freight sector

EU’s Court of Justice upholds fines on Kuehne & Nagel, Deutsche Bahn, others for cartels in the air freight sector


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In a series of verdicts Thursday, the European Court of Justice upheld a decision by the Commission to fine a group of freight forwarding companies of creating cartels, after the companies in question filed an appeal of the initial ruling

Logistics groups Kuehne & Nagel, Panalpina, Schenker, Deutsche Bahn, and nine others.

By a decision of 28 March 2012, the Commission imposed fined the companies €169 million on May 28, 2012, for their activities from 2002-2007. The court said, at the time, that the group had colluded to coordinate in the organisation of transportation of items, customs clearance, warehousing, and ground services, on behalf of customers.

The ‘new export system’ (NES) cartel provided a pre-clearance system for exports from the UK to countries outside the European Economic Area. A group of freight forwarders agreed to introduce a surcharge for NES declarations.

“The Court of Justice rejects all the arguments put forward by those companies and upholds the amount of the fines already imposed,” the EU’s top court said in a statement.

The ‘currency adjustment factor’ (CAF) cartel was designed to achieve an agreement on a common tariff strategy in order to deal with the risk of a fall in profits after the People’s Bank of China decided in 2005 that it would no longer peg the Chinese currency (renminbi or RMB) to the United States dollar (USD).

A number of international freight forwarders decided to convert all contracts with their customers into renminbi and to introduce a CAF surcharge, setting the amount.

The European Commission can fine companies up to 10 percent of their turnover for breaching EU competition rules.

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