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U.S. fines two Japanese freight forwarders for price fixing

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Japanese freight forwarders Yusen Logistics Co Ltd <9370.T> and "K" Line Logistics Ltd have agreed to pay a combined $18.9 million in criminal fines for conspiring to fix fees, the Justice Department said on Friday.

The two companies agreed to plead guilty to fixing fuel surcharges and various security fees on shipments from Japan to the United States, the department said.

The companies did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

They are among 16 freight forwarding firms which have agreed to plead guilty. Criminal fines have totaled more than $120 million, the Justice Department said.

Yusen Logistics and "K" Line Logistics executives met and held other discussions to fix the fees charged to customers of their air freight business from about September 2002 to November 2007, the department said.

The Justice Department has also gone after shipping companies for price-fixing. Sea Star and two other companies have been convicted of price fixing while six people have pleaded guilty or have been found guilty, the Justice Department said in January.

In March 2012, the European Commission fined 13 logistics firms, including UPS , 169 million euros ($225 million) for price-fixing.

(Reporting by David Ingram and Diane Bartz; Editing by Gerald E. McCormick and David Gregorio)

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