DOJ Seeking Evidence Against Freight Brokers Before Opening Investigation
Washington D.C. – The United States Department of Justice (DOJ) is seeking evidence of potential antitrust law violations before possibly opening an investigation into the business practices of freight brokers.
In a meeting with DOJ representatives this week, James Lamb, president of the Small Business in Transportation Coalition (SBTC) presented preliminary evidence of alleged broker abuses amid the COVID-19 national emergency.
Lamb tells Transportation Nation Network (TNN) the DOJ is “reviewing” its submissions.
“After our meeting, the DOJ advised us they want to receive evidence of alleged violations of law in the area of antitrust, which prohibit a number of business practices that restrain trade,” Lamb said.
Antitrust violations are often exceedingly difficult to prove.
However, one of the most common offenses are agreements made between competing sellers for the purpose of restraining competition.
These “price fixing” agreements, as they are referred to, whereby competing sellers collude to set minimum and maximum rates are a violation of antitrust laws.
Another common violation is corporate mergers with the intent to restrain competition in, and acquire a monopoly over, a certain market.
The SBTC secured the meeting following its call, last week, for the DOJ to immediately launch an investigation into “large third party intermediaries” for possible “antitrust activity and/or illegal price-fixing.”
“We believe, these large third-party logistics entities have engaged in a scheme to profiteer by price gouging their shipper clients (charging them pre-coronavirus rates), especially in the ‘spot market,’ yet paying carriers substandard rates, targeting the most desperate of truckers willing to accept rates that barely cover the cost of fuel,” an SBTC letter to the DOJ stated.
Further, the 15,000-member SBTC alleged mega brokers could be engaged in a “conspiracy with Big Trucking to put small players out of business and defeat competition.”
Lamb is asking those who believe they have evidence of such violations to forward it to [email protected]
However, he stressed to TNN that the DOJ has not yet opened an official investigation into the matter.
“They would not acknowledge to us if and when an investigation is in progress, so an investigation could be opened tomorrow and we would not know,” he said.