Atlanta, Georgia - Maria Christina “Meta” Ullings, the former senior vice president of cargo sales and marketing for Martinair N.V. (Martinair Cargo) and a Dutch national, was extradited from Italy, the Department of Justice announced Monday.
On September 21, 2010, in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia in Atlanta, Ullings was indicted for participating in a long-running worldwide 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. 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 January 10 and made her initial appearance today in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia.
“This extradition ruling by the Italian courts – the seventh country to extradite a defendant in an Antitrust Division case in recent years, and the second to do so based solely on an antitrust charge – demonstrates that those who violate U.S. antitrust laws and seek to evade justice will find no place to hide,” said Assistant Attorney General Makan Delrahim of the Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division. “The Division appreciates the cooperation of the Italian authorities in this matter. With the assistance of our law enforcement colleagues at home and around the world, the Division will aggressively pursue every avenue available in bringing price fixers to justice.”
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 air cargo 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.
An indictment merely alleges that crimes have been committed, and all defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
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 $1.8 billion in criminal fines have been imposed and seven executives have been sentenced to serve prison time.
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.
The Antitrust Division and the FBI led the United States’ extradition effort. Assistance with the extradition was provided by the Department of Justice Criminal Division’s Office of International Affairs and the U.S. Marshals Service. The investigation into the air transportation industry has been conducted by the Antitrust Division, the FBI, the Department of Transportation’s Office of the Inspector General, and the U.S. Postal Service’s Office of the Inspector General.