BA pleads guilty for Canadian price-fixing

BRITISH Airways (BA) has pleaded guilty and subsequently been fined C$4.5 million (US$4.1 million) for participating in an air cargo cartel affecting Canada.The UK carrier admitted to fixing surcharges on the sale and supply of international air cargo exported on certain routes from Canada between April 2002 and February 2006.“The fines obtained as a result of our investigation into the air cargo price-fixing conspiracy reflect the serious nature of this behaviour,” said Melanie Aitken, Canada’s commissioner of competition. “The Bureau is committed to uncovering such anti-competitive agreements that harm Canadians, and taking criminal action against the conspirators.”The bureau said that BA fully cooperated with the investigation through its leniency programme, which creates incentives for parties to co-operate with the bureau in its ongoing investigation and prosecution of other alleged cartel participants.BA’s fine brings the total fines won by the bureau’s air cargo inquiry to more than C$14.6 million (US$13.5 million). Previously, Air France, KLM, Martinair and Qantas each pleaded guilty to fixing air cargo surcharges for shipments on certain routes from Canada. The bureau’s investigation into the alleged conduct of other air cargo carriers continues.Under Canada’s Competition Act, any agreement between competitors to fix prices that result in an undue lessening of competition in Canada is a criminal offence, which can be fined up to C$10 million (US$9.3 million) per count, imprisonment to a maximum term of five years or a combination of both. Recent amendments to the Act, effective 12 March 12, 2010,increase those maximum penalties up to $25 million (US$23.2 million) per count and imprisonment up to fourteen years, or a combination of both.

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