Maria Christina ‘Meta’ Ullings, the former senior vice president of cargo sales and marketing for Martinair Cargo and a Dutch national, was extradited from Italy to the US according to the US Department of Justice (DoJ).
On 21 September 2010 Ullings was indicted by a US District Court in Atlanta, for participating in a long-running global conspiracy to fix prices of air cargo.
A fugitive for almost 10 years, Ullings was apprehended by Italian authorities in July 2019 while visiting Sicily, the DoJ says. Ullings initially contested extradition in the Italian courts, but after the Court of Appeals of Palermo ruled that she be extradited, she waived her appeal. She arrived in Atlanta on 10 January and made her initial court appearance on Monday.
According to the indictment, Ullings conspired with others to suppress and eliminate competition by fixing and coordinating certain surcharges, including fuel surcharges, charged to customers located in the United States and elsewhere for air cargo shipments.
These shipments included heavy equipment, perishable commodities, and consumer goods destined for American consumers and shipped by American producers. Ullings is alleged to have participated in the conspiracy from at least as early as January 2001 until at least February 2006.
The DoJ statement adds that an indictment merely alleges that crimes have been committed, and all defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Ullings faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a USD 1.0 million criminal fine.
Including Ullings, a total of 22 airlines and 21 executives have been charged in the Justice Department’s investigation into price fixing in the air transportation industry. To date, more than USD 1.8 billion in criminal fines have been imposed and seven executives have been sentenced to serve prison time. Various other countries have undertaken similar antitrust investigations with resultant fines for a number of carriers.
Ullings is charged with violating the Sherman Act, which carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $1 million criminal fine for individuals. The maximum fine may be increased to twice the gain derived from the crime or twice the loss suffered by the victims of the crime, if either of those amounts is greater than the statutory maximum fine.