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FMC wants to fine MSC US$63 million for price gouging during COVID

FMC Wants to Fine MSC US$63 Million for Price Gouging During COVID

THE US Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) wants Swiss-Italian Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC), to pay a civil fine of US$63.3 million for “knowingly and wilfully” violating the US Shipping Act during the Covid scare.

The FMC Office of Enforcement also asked the administrative law judge to issue a cease-and-desist order given MSC’s alleged “blatant disregard for the Shipping Act”, allowing the FMC to pursue MSC should it “engage in similar unlawful activities in the future”.

The FMC Office of Enforcement disclosed its recommendations stemming from an investigation that began in August 2023.

MSC said it was “reviewing the Office of Enforcement’s brief and will vigorously defend itself against the allegations and the excessive penalties sought”.

MSC, the world’s biggest shipping company, is accused of using an overly broad definition of “merchant” in its bills of lading to charge third parties without their consent, billing non-operating reefers (NORs) at the reefer rate and cheating NORs out of free time, and failing to publish NOR rates in its US tariff.

“It was opportunistic for MSC to commit these violations at the height of the Covid pandemic, amid significant global shipping tension and competition,” said the FMC enforcement office.

“MSC’s global status, size, resources and experience all collectively highlight the egregious nature of the violations,” which were of an “iniquitous nature, vast extent and severe gravity”.

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