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DOJ’s Antitrust Division Convicts Seventh Foreign Executive Following Extradition Proceedings

January 27, 2020

The latest extradition of a foreign executive highlights ongoing efforts by the US Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division to arrest foreign executives abroad in order to face charges in the United States. Nearly 10 years after the original charges, the Antitrust Division recently extradited and convicted an airline cargo executive as part of its air transportation industry investigation.

Dutch national Maria Christina “Meta” Ullings was extradited from Italy to the United States on January 10. Ullings previously served as the senior vice president of cargo sales and marketing for Martinair N.V. (Martinair Cargo). On September 21, 2010, Ullings was originally charged in a public, one-count indictment for conspiring to fix surcharge rates on air cargo shipments in violation of the Sherman Act. An arrest warrant was issued the same day.[1] On November 8, 2011, an Interpol Red Notice was issued, requesting her arrest during international travel.[2]

Extradition from Italy and Conviction

Ullings was arrested during travel in Italy on July 10, 2019.[3] During extradition proceedings in Italy, she was ordered to be extradited under the 2006 extradition treaty between the United States and the Republic of Italy. Ullings then waived appeal.

On January 13, she was ordered detained pending trial in the US District Court for the Northern District of Georgia.[4] Thirteen days after her initial appearance in federal court, Ullings pled guilty to the price-fixing conspiracy on January 23 and was sentenced to 14 months in prison and a fine of $20,000. Six months’ credit was given for her detention during extradition proceedings in Italy.

During the plea hearing, Ullings admitted to conspiring to fix the cargo rates on international air shipments during January 2001 and February 2006.[5] Specifically, Ullings acknowledged that “she participated in a conspiracy among major international air cargo carriers, the primary purpose of which was to suppress and eliminate competition by fixing a component of the air cargo rates charged to customers for air cargo services, including shipments to and from and within the United States,” and that her “conduct had the effect of misleading and deceiving the public as to the actual competitive prices for air cargo services.” The air cargo services sales under the conspiracy “totaled at least $160 million.”

Prior Air Transportation Industry Investigation

The air transportation industry investigation, among the largest prosecuted by the Antitrust Division, has resulted in price-fixing charges against 22 airlines and 21 executives, with more than $1.8 billion in criminal fines imposed. Eight executives, including Ullings, have been sentenced to prison terms.

Ullings is the second Martinair executive to be convicted in the investigation. In June 2009, another vice president of cargo sales in Europe pled guilty and was sentenced to serve eight months in prison and pay a $20,000 fine.

International Enforcement Efforts to Extradite Foreign Executives

This case is the seventh extradition case handled by the Antitrust Division and the second involving solely a Sherman Act charge and no other criminal offenses. Since 2010, extradition proceedings of executives in the Antitrust Division cases have been held in seven countries: United Kingdom (2010), Israel (2012), Germany (2014), Canada (2014), Bulgaria (2016), Spain (2018), and Italy (2020).[6]

This case again demonstrates some of the international steps taken and tools used by the DOJ to hold foreign executives accountable in price-fixing cases in US courts. As in other extradition cases, this case followed the pattern of an arrest warrant issued based on charges, arrest and detention based on an Interpol arrest warrant during travel abroad, extradition proceedings, and extradition to appear in US federal court.

In this case the Antitrust Division had pursued the prosecution of this foreign executive for almost 10 years. Once an arrest warrant and Interpol Red Notice are issued, executive travel to any country with an extradition treaty with the United States risks an arrest and extradition. In the seven Antitrust Division cases involving extradition proceedings, four were spurred by the arrest of a foreign executive who was traveling in another country in which the executive was not a citizen.

Contacts

If you have any questions or would like more information on the issues discussed in this LawFlash, please contact any of the following Morgan Lewis lawyers:

Silicon Valley
Mark L. Krotoski

London
Omar Shah

Washington, DC
Clay Everett



[1] Arrest Warrant, United States v. Ullings, No. 1:10-cr-00406-MLB (N.D. Ga. Sept. 21, 2010) (Doc. No. 3).

[2] Affidavit in Support of Request for Extradition ¶ 17, United States v. Ullings, No. 1:10-cr-00406-MLB (N.D. Ga. July 29, 2010) (Doc. No. 4).

[3] Id.

[4] Order of Detention Pending Trial, United States v. Ullings, No. 1:10-cr-00406-MLB (N.D. Ga. Jan. 13, 2010) (Doc. No. 11).

[5] Plea Agreement ¶ 3, United States v. Ullings, No. 1:10-cr-00406-MLB (N.D. Ga. Jan. 23, 2020) (Doc. No. 17).

[6] For background on the prior Antitrust Division extradition cases, see Mark L. Krotoski, Extradition Lessons Learned, MLex (Nov. 28, 2016); Mark L. Krotoski, Extradition in International Antitrust Enforcement Cases, The Antitrust Source (Apr. 2015); LawFlash, Case Highlights DOJ Focus, Extradition Efforts In Ecommerce Price-Fixing Conspiracy (Feb. 5, 2019); LawFlash, DOJ’s Antitrust Division Convicts Fifth Extradited Foreign Executive (Mar. 16, 2017).