The Stolt-Nielsen Transportation Group wants to know why it’s been singled out for special treatment by the government. The Norwegian shipping giant has sued the U.S. Department of Justice under the Freedom of Information Act, demanding that antitrust officials release scores of confidential deals that they’ve reached with other companies. Of the roughly 100 businesses that have signed amnesty agreements with Justice’s antitrust division, Stolt-Nielsen is the only one to have subsequently been indicted.
Why does Stolt-Nielsen want to pore through these deals? For one thing, it wants to know whether any of these other agreements specified a date by which companies had to cease their alleged wrongdoing. Antitrust officials indicted Stolt-Nielsen’s U.S. subsidiary in September, claiming that it continued to engage in price-fixing even after it said it had stopped. Stolt-Nielsen responds that the subsidiary halted the misconduct by the time that it signed its amnesty agreement in January 2003 and that the deal didn’t set a deadline for when it had to clean up its act.
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