Air cargo exec in indictment call

RODRIGO Hidalgo, a former Florida West International Airways and LAN Cargo executive, seems to have escaped one antitrust indictment in a US court but still faces one more.

In Miami (US) Judge Edwin Torres has recommended the dismissal of the indictment against Hidalgo’s part in the air cargo cartel at LAN Cargo, but has denied a separate motion by Florida West International Airways to be dismissed from the action.

Hidalgo is the only individual charged in the cartel, who has not pleaded guilty or is a fugitive. He has 14 days to object.

Hidalgo previously obtained dismissal from another related indictment alleging that he participated in a conspiracy to fix rates on airfreight shipments between Colombia and the US.

Hidalgo’s lawyers acted to dismiss the second indictment in April, arguing that his indictment should be rejected because he was protected under a 2009 plea agreement between the Department of Justice (DoJ) and LAN Cargo.

The judge’s recommendation says that LAN Cargo had a business relationship with Florida West, meaning the US company at one time could have been considered part of the ‘LAN Cargo group’.

However, LAN Cargo sold its ownership interest in Florida West in December 2007. Therefore the company is not a party to a LAN Cargo plea agreement that would provide immunity from the litigation.

Twenty-two airlines and 21 executives have been charged in the DoJ’s ongoing investigation into cargo price-fixing in the air transportation industry.

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