A Kawasaki Kisen Kaisha Ltd. (K-Line) executive received an 18-month sentence in a US prison in regards to his involvement in a conspiracy to fix prices in the car carrier business, as reported by the US Department of Justice on Friday.

Bishu Highway

According to the one-count felony charge, Hiroshige Tanioka, who at various times occupied the position of an assistant manager, team leader and general manager in the car carrier division for K-line, took part in a conspiracy to allocate customers and routes, rig bids and fix prices for the sale of international ocean shipments of roll-on, roll-off cargo to and from the United States and elsewhere, including the Port of Baltimore. It was determined that Tanioka had participated in the conspiracy scheme from at least as early as April of 1998 to until the very least of April 2012.

“For over a decade this scheme has contributed a great deal to the rising cost of importing cars and trucks into the United States,” commented Bill Baer, Assistant Attorney General for the Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division. “The sentence that was given out today is the first step in our continuing fight to make absolutely sure that the executives responsible for this type of misconduct are properly held accountable.”

This sentence is the first such imposed against an individual in the division’s ocean snipping investigation, the DoJ commented. Previously, three corporations agreed to plead guilty and to pay the necessary criminal fines that amount to more than USD 136 million in total, and that includes Tanioka’s employer K-Line, which was ordered by the court to pay a criminal fine in the range of USD 67.7 million back in November of 2014.

Tanioka received an 18-month sentence in prison and was ordered by the court to pay a USD 20,000 criminal fine in regard to his participation in the above-mentioned conspiracy. Additionally, Tanioka has agreed to provide assistance to the department in its current ongoing investigation that focuses on the ocean shipping industry.