Former DOJ exec not surprised about Air France price-fixing charges
The United States District Court in Chicago has charged two former Air France executives with conspiracy to fix prices and coordinate surcharges on airfreight shipments to and from the United States. This is the most recent indictment in a series of investigations into price-fixing in the air cargo industry.
Marc Boudier, former executive vice president of Air France’s cargo division, and Jean Charles Foucault, former vice president of sales and marketing of the airline’s cargo division, were charged with violating the Sherman Act. The maximum sentence is 10 years in jail and a $1 million fine.
Boudier and Foucault are formally charged with fixing airfreight prices from at least August 2004 until February 2006. The Chicago jury also accused the former Air France executives of plotting with other airfreight carriers to stifle competition and refusing to pay clients commissions on airfreight surcharges to and from the U.S. and abroad.
One person who isn’t surprised by these new allegations is Mark Rosman. As the former assistant chief of national criminal enforcement of the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) Antitrust Division, Rosman headed up the DOJ’s initial investigation into price-fixing in early 2006. His take on the situation?
“These executives can choose to submit to U.S. jurisdiction and fight the charges or remain international fugitives trying to avoid arrest and extradition under an Interpol Red Notice,” Rosman said. “It’s up to them.”
Although similar price-fixing investigations are being conducted in Brazil, Australia and New Zealand, Rosman said the U.S. charges are unique in that they bring prison sentences. “What makes the U.S. hard is the criminal sanctions,” he told Air Cargo World . “The DOJ believes that sending an executive to jail is the best way to deter other executives from price-fixing and harming U.S. consumers.”
Rosman also hopes that such repercussions will discourage antitrust activity. “I think the investigation serves as a cautionary tale about the importance of having compliance programs in place,” he said.
In total, the DOJ has indicted 21 airlines and 21 executives with price-fixing in the airfreight industry. Four airline officials are currently serving prison sentences and the remaining executives, including Boudier and Foucault, continue to fight these allegations.
Still, Rosman maintains, more indictments may be on the horizon. “It wouldn’t surprise me if the DOJ brought another case or two,” he said.