A former executive of Japanese Airlines and two former executives of Nippon Cargo Airlines have been indicted for conspiring to fix rates on air cargo shipments to and from the United States, the Department of Justice (DoJ) said.

The indictment, returned on Tuesday by a grand jury in U.S. District Court in Atlanta, charges Takao Fukuchi, former president of Japan Airlines International (JAL) Cargo Sales, and Yoshio Kunugi and Naoshige Makino, both former senior executives of Nippon Cargo Airlines, with conspiring with others to suppress and eliminate competition by fixing and coordinating certain components of cargo rates charged to customers for international air shipments to and from the United States.

According to the indictment, Fukuchi, Kunugi, Makino and co-conspirators had participated in meetings, conversations and communications to discuss and fix certain components of cargo rates and coordinated the timing of changes to those rates. As part of the conspiracy, Fukuchi, Kunugi, Makino and co-conspirators had implemented collusive cargo rates in accordance with the agreements reached, and accepted had payments for shipments at collusive and non-competitive rates.

While Fukuchi and Kunugi have been charged with entering into and participating in the conspiracy from at least as early as December 1999 until at least February 2006, Makino has been charged with joining and participating in the conspiracy from at least as early as June 2001 until at least February 2006.

Fukuchi, Kunugi and Makino have been charged with price fixing in violation of the Sherman Act, which carries a maximum penalty for each individual of 10 years in prison and a $1 million criminal fine. The maximum fine may be increased to twice the gain derived from the crime or twice the loss suffered by the victims of the crime, if either of those amounts is greater than the statutory maximum fine.

The latest charge is the result of a joint investigation into the air transportation industry conducted by the Antitrust Division's National Criminal Enforcement Section and Atlanta Field Office, the FBI's field offices in Washington and Atlanta, the Department of Transportation's Office of Inspector General and the U.S. Postal Service's Office of Inspector General.