Following an investigation by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), Japan's Nippon Yusen Kabushiki Kaisha (NYK), Monday pleaded guilty to criminal cartel conduct in Australian Federal Court.

"This is the first criminal charge laid against a corporation under the criminal cartel provisions of the Competition and Consumer Act," ACCC Chairman Rod Sims said, noting that "this matter relates to alleged cartel conduct in connection with the transportation of vehicles, including cars, trucks, and buses, to Australia between July 2009 and September 2012."

Japan's Nippon Yusen Kabushiki Kaisha (NYK) pleads guilty in Australian criminal cartel case

Vehicles carrier Cassiopeia Leader - Image: Hartema / Heyken

The charge was laid by the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions (CDPP) under section 44ZZRG of the Competition and Consumer Act 2010 (Cth) on July 14, 2016. NYK is one of the world's largest shipping companies, with offices in Europe, Africa, East Asia, South Asia, China, Oceania (including Australia) and North and South America. It has over 33,000 employees and its headquarters is in Tokyo. It also operates an Australian subsidiary, NYK Line (Australia) Pty Ltd.

For corporations, the maximum fine for each criminal cartel offence will be the greater of A$10 million; three times the total benefits that have been obtained and are reasonably attributable to the commission of the offense; if the total value of the benefits cannot be determined,10% of the corporation's annual turnover connected with Australia.

The ACCC says its investigation into other alleged cartel participants is continuing.

Related news: NYK hit by criminal cartel case in Australia

Source: ACCC