The Federal Maritime Commission said Monday that it has reached a settlement with several shipping lines operating in the Pacific that allegedly charged less for cargo than their published rates.
The agency said it will wait until Aug. 28 to disclose the names of the companies and the amount of money they will pay. It did say that it will be the largest payment to the maritime commission in its 29-year history.
"We realized from the beginning that only a strong deterrent would prevent unlawful practices" in Pacific trade, acting commission Chairman James J. Carey said in a statement. "This agreement goes a long way toward assuring future compliance with the Shipping Act of 1984."
The largest previous settlement was $4 million, made in the late 1970s, said Seymour Glanzer, director of the agency's Bureau of Hearing Counsel. In addition to the names of the companies and the size of the settlement, Glanzer declined in a telephone interview to say how many companies are involved and whether they are U.S. or foreign lines.
A source familiar with the agreement said it involved between four and 10 companies.
The companies allegedly charged rates to ship cargo that were lower than the tariffs they had filed with the commission, Glanzer said.
Violations of the Shipping Act or commission regulations can result in penalties of up to $25,000 per shipment.