A federal district court judge has dismissed the criminal antitrust indictments against Norwaybased shipping company Stolt-Nielsen SA and two of its executives for their roles in an international bid-rigging scheme. Judge Bruce W. Kauffman of the US District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania threw out the indictments due to an amnesty agreement entered by Stolt-Nielsen and the DOJ under the agency’s leniency program. “The [Antitrust] Division has no reasonable basis upon which to void or revoke the agreement,” Kauffman ruled, “because it has not demonstrated any breach by Stolt-Nielsen or the individual defendants.”
The DOJ revoked the amnesty agreement with Stolt-Nielsen in 2004 after discovering that the company had engaged in anticompetitive behavior for a longer period than it originally reported to the DOJ. This was the Antitrust Division’s first ever revocation of an amnesty agreement. Nevertheless, in January 2005, Stolt-Nielsen obtained an injunction from the district court barring the DOJ from pursuing indictments against them. The injunction was subsequently overturned by the Third Circuit Court of Appeals, which held that the district court lacked authority to enjoin the DOJ prior to its obtaining an indictment, and the Supreme Court declined to rule on the matter.