Greek Shipping Company Charged for MARPOL Violations
Two shipping companies and a chief engineer were indicted last week on charges of falsifying an oil record book and misleading investigators during a port state control inspection at a U.S. East Coast port.
On March 11, the U.S. Coast Guard boarded the oil tanker Evridiki (IMO 9318137), according to Equasis inspection records. According to the indictment, chief engineer Nikolaos Vastardis made false statements to the inspectors about how the ship's oil pollution prevention equipment was operated at sea. Further, he allegedly demonstrated for the inspectors himself "how the equipment was operated at sea in a manner designed to trick the equipment into reporting the discharge of oily bilge water at permissible levels." The indictment also alleges that Vastardis failed to maintain an accurate oil record book on or about March 11.
Ship manager Liquimar Tankers Management Services, shipowner Evridiki Navigation and Vastardis are all charged with failing to maintain an accurate oil record book as required by MARPOL. The defendants are also charged with falsification of records, obstruction of justice and making false statements.
According to the Evridiki's Equasis record, both Liquimar Tankers Management and Evridiki Navigation share a working address in Athens. Other Athens-based firms charged or fined in connection with MARPOL violations over the past year include Navimax, a subsidiary of Navios Maritime; Avin International LTD and Nicos I.V. Special Maritime Enterprises; Chartworld Shipping and Nederland Shipping; and Sea World Management & Trading.
Large fines, lengthly probation sentences and generous whistleblower rewards are common for MARPOL cases prosecuted in the United States. According to a tally compiled by the Wall Street Journal, the U.S. Justice Department has convicted 140 shipping firms of MARPOL violations and collected $470 million in fines since enforcement began in the 1990s.
The largest ever U.S.-prosecuted MARPOL case ended in a guilty plea and a $40 million fine for Princess Cruise Lines, a subsidiary of American operator Carnival Corporation, for multiple years of illegal oil discharge from five vessels. The fine represents nearly ten percent of the total ever collected in the U.S. Carnival may face addition penalties if found guilty of violating the terms of its probation; a hearing examining charges brought by its probation officer is scheduled for June. Carnival is in discussions with prosecutors to resolve the matter in advance of the hearing, according to the Miami Herald.