WALLENIUS Wilhelmsen Ocean has pleaded in the Federal Court to criminal cartel conduct.

This followed an investigation by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission which resulted in the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions charging WWO with cartel conduct in August of last year.

The charges related to the transportation of vehicles, including cars, trucks and buses, to Australia between June 2011 and July 2012.

“We are pleased that by entering a guilty plea, WWO has acknowledged its role in this criminal cartel. This plea means the last of the cases in the long-running shipping cartel matters is now closer to being resolved,” ACCC chair Rod Sims said.

The case has been adjourned for sentencing.

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“As this is a criminal matter currently before the Federal Court, the ACCC will not provide any further comment at this time,” the regulator said in a statement.

The ACCC investigates cartel conduct, manages the immunity process, takes proceedings in the Federal Court regarding civil cartel contraventions, and refers serious cartel conduct to the CDPP for consideration for prosecution.

The CDPP is responsible for prosecuting criminal cartel offences, in accordance with the Prosecution Policy of the Commonwealth.

This cartel has been investigated and prosecuted in other jurisdictions, including the US.

WWO is headquartered in Oslo with offices around the world.

WWO was previously known as Wallenius Wilhelmsen Logistics AS.

This is the third guilty plea in Australia regarding this cartel.

Nippon Yusen Kabushiki Kaisha pleaded guilty to criminal cartel conduct in July 2016 and was convicted and fined $25m on 3 August 2017.

Kawasaki Kisen Kaisha Ltd (K-Line) pleaded guilty to criminal cartel conduct on 5 April 2018 and was convicted and fined $34.5m on 2 August 2019.

According to the ACCC, a cartel exists when businesses agree to act together instead of competing with each other.

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