The following is a statement from Crowley Liner Services Inc. regarding the U.S. Department of Justice's announcement that the company pleaded guilty in the Puerto Rico cargo-transport price-fixing case:
STATEMENT OF CROWLEY LINER SERVICES, INC.
An agreement was filed today in U.S. District Court in San Juan, Puerto Rico, in which Crowley Liner Services, Inc. (“CLSI”) agreed to plead guilty to violating the Sherman Antitrust Act in the Puerto Rico liner trade. The agreement resolves the company’s involvement in a government investigation that first came to light in April 2008.
The plea agreement states that CLSI was involved with certain competitors in fixing the base rates charged in particular contracts for certain services in the Puerto Rico liner trade during the period 2006-2008. Those contracts represented less than 5% of the commercial trade during that period, and no government business. The agreement describes CLSI’s conduct, which was substantially more limited in time and scope than that of two competitors that previously entered guilty pleas.
The company noted that it has never before pled or been found guilty of criminal activity, and stressed the importance of putting this matter behind it after an investigation spanning more than four years.
While these points are relevant, the company offered no excuses. “We regret having any involvement whatsoever in this activity,” said Michael Roberts, SVP and General Counsel of Crowley Maritime Corp, parent company of CLSI. “Such conduct is contrary to our explicit policies, and violates our core values. It is absolutely unacceptable.”
The company has enhanced its antitrust compliance program, intensifying training and applying it to a broad base of employees. This program follows best practices that include computer-based learning, small group and person-to-person counseling, and extensive auditing.
“We are confident that the actions taken will prevent such activities in the future,” said Roberts. “It is also important to move beyond this matter, and focus on growing the business and providing great service to our loyal customers.” Crowley noted that it has also resolved nearly all potential civil claims related to this matter.