Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Mitsui OSK Lines and Affiliate Fined $1.2 Million

By Mark Edward Nero

Japan-based vessel-operating common carrier Mitsui OSK Lines (MOL) and its corporate affiliate, Nissan Motor Car Carrier Co. (NMCC), have reached an agreement with the Federal Maritime Commission to settle charges that they engaged in violations of the Shipping Act.

MOL and NMCC operate pure car carriers (PCCs) and roll on/roll off (ro/ro) vessels in US inbound and outbound trades.

The agreement resolves allegations that MOL and NMCC violated section 10(a) of the Shipping Act by acting with other ocean common carriers regarding the shipment of automobiles and other motorized vehicles by ro/ro or specialized car carrier vessels, where such agreements had not been filed with the Commission or been effective under the Shipping Act.

The compromise also addressed related activities and violations arising under such carrier agreements. The Commission alleged that the practices persisted over several years and involved numerous U.S. trade lanes.

Under the agreement, MOL agreed to pay $1,275,000 in penalties and agreed to provide ongoing cooperation with other Commission investigations or enforcement actions with respect to these activities, but weren’t required to admit to violations of the Shipping Act.

This is the second public announcement in recent months of Commission enforcement action against parties who fail to file carrier agreements. In December 2013, a different compromise was announced under which two Tokyo-based companies – K Line and NYK Line – paid $1.1 million and $1.2 million, respectively, in penalties for similar Shipping Act violations.