Swiss regulator fines four for air freight cartel

The Swiss Competition Commission said Tuesday it has fined four transit companies, including Deutsche Bahn and Kuehne and Nagel International, for fixing prices on air freight passing through Switzerland.

"The Competition Commission has inflicted a sanction of 6.2 million Swiss francs ($6.7 million, 5.1 million euros) on four international transit companies who fixed fees and surcharges in the area of air freight," the regulator said in a statement.

The commission, or COMCO, said it had decided on December 11 to hand the biggest fine of 3.12 million Swiss francs to Swiss Panalpina Welttransport, while another Swiss company, Kuehne and Nagel, was fined 1.17 million.

The German national rail company Deutsche Bahn received a 1.02 million fine, while the Kuwait-headquartered Agility Logistics International was fined 907,349 Swiss francs.

The German postal service Deutsche Post had also taken part in the cartel, but since it turned itself in and alerted the authorities to the illegal practices it was offered immunity, COMCO said.

Deutsche Bahn and Agility had also negotiated and received lower fines, the regulator said.

COMCO explained that it had launched the probe in October 2007, and determined that the companies in question had from 2003 to 2007 coordinated certain fees and surcharges for air freight passing through Switzerland.

"Such horizontal deals constitute serious offences," it said.

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