Russian competition authorities seem to have begun a major inspection of a number of container carriers with an office in Russia. A large part of the raids took place in St Petersburg. Maersk Line confirms to ShippingWatch that the Russian anti-trust service (FAS) has paid the Maersk Line offices in Moscow and St Petersburg a visit.
“This we can confirm. Of course, we cooperate and everything took place quietly,” Maersk Line Group Press Officer, Michael Storgaard, tells ShippingWatch.
According to TradeWinds, the carriers in question include Maersk Line, APL, Zim, China Shipping and Evergreen. The raids took place after suspicions that the carriers fix prices reached the FAS.
“One of the aims of the inspections is to remind all players that in Russia this market is under careful scrutiny by government agencies,” a FAS source tells the Russian media, Kommersant, TradeWinds reports.
A Russian report has called the investigation “a nonsense” as all carriers act transparently and according to European law. A market source says that the inspection was carried out following the reception of information from a major participant in the market. The Russian container carrier, Fesco, was not inspected.
The Russian container market is estimated to have a value of USD two billion a year. The punishment for price fixing is rather severe in Russia.
The inspections commenced a week ago and will continue until 13 March.