U.S: Top shipping execs ordered to testify in price-fixing investigation
The subpoenas were issued during a meeting of top container shipping executives last week in San Francisco, according to publication JOC.
The executives are members of the International Council of Containership Operators, commonly known as the Box Club.
The world's biggest container shippers, Denmark's A.P. Moller-Maersk, Germany's Hapag Lloyd, Taiwan-based Evergreen, Hong Kong-based Orient Overseas Container Line (OOCL) said their executives were among those who had been ordered to testify in court, Reuters reported.
The U.S. is said to be concerned that the proposed alliances of several major companies, covering about 45% of all global shipping capacity, could lead to anti-competitive behavior.
"We can confirm that we conducted an operation," an FBI spokesman in San Francisco told Reuters on Wednesday.
"It is part of an ongoing investigation and we are unable to release any additional details at this point."
The U.S. Department of Justice declined to comment.
Maersk Line and Hapag Lloyd confirmed that they were issued subpoenas related to a probe into the container shipping industry, according to Reuters.
Spokesmen at both companies said that the subpoenas did not set out any specific allegations and that the companies would fully cooperate with authorities.
OOCL and Evergreen also confirmed they were involved.
"OOCL has received a subpoena from the Department of Justice Antitrust Division calling for the production of documents. OOCL intends to comply fully with the subpoena," director of trade Stephen Ng was quoted as saying.
The Evergreen spokesman was quoted as saying: “We are cooperating with the authorities in this matter. Evergreen's policy is to conduct business in compliance with applicable competition laws.”
The Hapag Lloyd spokesman said that its planned takeover of United Arab Shipping Company (UASC) would not be affected by the probe.