British Airways (BA) executive Keith Packer has become the first foreign national - and third individual - charged as part of the US Department of Justice's (DOJ's) ongoing investigation into price-fixing of international air cargo shipments.

Packer, a British citizen who previously worked as British Airways World Cargo's commercial general manager, has agreed to serve eight months in jail, pay a $20,000 criminal fine and cooperate with the probe being conducted by the DOJ's anti-trust division

Among the charges filed in US District Court in Washington DC, Packer and his co-conspirators are accused of participating in meetings, conversations and communications to discuss the cargo rates to be charged on certain routes to and from the USA beginning from at least as early as March 2002 and continuing until at least 14 February 2006.

In addition to today's action, nine companies - including BA - and three executives have been charged in the DOJ's investigation.

In August 2007 the agency named 10 current and former BA executives who would not be immune from facing criminal charges individually in connection with the price-fixing scandal, despite its $300 million fine of the carrier. Packer was among those named.

"The cost of shipping products in and out of the United States is a critical component of our economy and a price that every American business and consumer bears," says Scott Hammond, deputy assistant attorney general in charge of the anti-trust division's criminal enforcement programme.

"Those who conspire to cheat US businesses and consumers by fixing shipping rates will be held accountable."

Source: Air Transport Intelligence news