German Shipping Operator Sentenced to Pay $3.2 Million
German shipping company MST Mineralien Schiffahrt Spedition und Transport GmbH (MST) pleaded guilty and was sentenced in Portland, Maine, on Friday for obstruction of justice and for maintaining false official records to conceal deliberate pollution from one of its ships, the M/V Marguerita.
The U.S. Department of Justice reports that MST pleaded guilty to one count of violating the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships and one count of obstruction of justice for using falsified log books to hide intentional discharges of oily bilge waste occurring over a nine-month period during which the ship regularly made port calls in Portland, Maine. U.S. District Court Judge Nancy Torresen sentenced the company pursuant to a plea agreement and ordered it to pay a $3.2 million criminal fine and serve a four-year term of probation during which vessels operated by the company will be required to implement an environmental compliance plan, including inspections by an independent auditor.
MST, a vessel operator based in Bavaria, Germany, was convicted of similar environmental crimes in the District of Minnesota in 2016. That federal case involved the falsification of the oil record book for the M/V Cornelia, which concealed deliberate discharges of oil-contaminated bilge waste, including discharges into the Great Lakes. MST was on probation in the District of Minnesota when it committed the crimes charged in Maine.
According to documents filed in court, MST discharged oily bilge waste from the Marguerita through the use of a so-called “magic pipe” that bypasses required pollution prevention equipment. The discharges violated MARPOL and were not recorded in the vessel’s oil record book.
The case was investigated by the U.S. Coast Guard Investigative Service with assistance from the U.S. Coast Guard Sector Northern New England which conducted the inspection of the ship. The prosecution was handled by Trial Attorney John Cashman and Senior Litigation Counsel Richard Udell of the Environmental Crimes Section of the U.S. Department of Justice, with assistance from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Maine.