The Shanghai offices of many of the world’s leading containerlines have been raided by local authorities looking to clamp down on erroneous surcharges that the lines have been charging shippers.
Investigators, working at the behest of China’s powerful National Development and Reform Committee (NDRC), have been combing through emails and files at many boxlines since Friday, Splash can reveal.
This September Beijing issued a public notice demanding that containerlines eliminate excessive shipping charges. The China Shippers Association had for some time been claiming that some major liner companies had been charging excessive fees, which need to be regulated.
Since September, many boxlines including K Line, Hanjin Shipping, Hyundai Merchant Marine, Evergreen, Wan Hai Lines, Yang Ming Lines and China Shipping Container Lines, sent letters to the NDRC to say that they have taken measures to cut several shipping surcharges including document fees, port fees, telegraph cancellation fees and bills of lading custody fees. Last week both Maersk and CMA CGM revealed they have already lowered surcharges by about 50% in China.
While many lines are involved Maersk was able to confirm the raids to Splash.
“We can confirm that the National Development and Reform Commission carried out an inspection in our offices in Shanghai. We are cooperating fully with NDRC and providing all documents and data requested,” a spokesperson for the company said, adding: “The fact that NDRC carries out such inspections does not mean that a company has engaged in behaviours not compliant with Chinese regulations nor does it prejudge the outcome of the investigation itself.”
The raids that have taken place over the past few days are also looking at whether or not the lines have been colluding in the China market, sources tell Splash.