2 Japanese firms latest of 16 to agree to plead in big price-fixing investigation

WASHINGTON – The Justice Department says two Japanese air freight forwarding companies have agreed to plead guilty and pay a combined $18.9 million in fines — the latest of 16 firms ensnared in a price-fixing conspiracy.

The department says the 16 companies have agreed to pay more than $120 million in criminal fines.

In court papers, the department says that “K” Line Logistics Ltd. and Yusen Logistics Co. Ltd. conspired to fix surcharges for fuel and security on air cargo shipments from Japan to the U.S. from September 2002 until November 2007. Yusen Logistics Co. Ltd. has agreed to pay $15.4 million in criminal fines and “K” Line $3.5 million.

Freight forwarders receive cargo and warehouse it while arranging for shipments through transport companies including air carriers.