U.S. Freight Forwarder Pleads Guilty to Criminal Charges

Wednesday, August 01, 2007
A Kirkland, Wash.-based freight forwarder involved in the military's program for shipping household goods of military and civilian Department of Defense (DOD) personnel between the U.S. and foreign countries pleaded guilty to criminal offenses related to its participation in that program, the Department of Justice announced today.

Criminal charges were filed today in U.S. District Court in Alexandria, Va., against Air Van Lines International Inc. (AVLC). Under the terms of a plea agreement, AVLC pleaded guilty to two counts of engaging in a scheme to conceal a material fact, and agreed to pay a criminal fine of $143,040. AVLC is the seventh company to be charged in the Department's investigation into anticompetitive and fraudulent conduct related to the ITGBL program. Criminal fines in excess of $12 million have thus far been imposed on six companies. The charges relate to the company's participation in a DOD program called the International Through Government Bill of Lading (ITGBL) program. Under this program, freight forwarders file rates with DOD to transport the household goods of military and civilian DOD personnel between the U.S. and foreign countries. The companies filing the lowest rates are awarded shipments of household goods to transport during a six-month summer or winter "cycle." In recent years, DOD has spent hundreds of millions of dollars annually to transport the household goods of its military and civilian personnel between the U.S. and foreign destinations.

According to the felony charges filed against AVLC, during two separate bidding cycles in 2000 and 2001, AVLC engaged in a scheme to falsify, conceal and cover up the fact that its rates to transport military household goods had not been determined in accordance with its certificate of independent pricing. In fact, contrary to its sworn statement, its rates had not been arrived at independently, but rather AVLC had engaged in collusion with a competing carrier.

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