July 24, 2007
Kassian Maritime to pay $1.3 million penalties in magic pipe case
Greek-based shipping company Kassian Maritime Navigation Agency Ltd. pleaded guilty today to maintaining a false record pertaining to the illegal dumping of bilge and wastewater into the ocean from the M/V North Princess, an ocean-going bulk cargo ship traveling to ports in the United States, in violation of the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships.
According to the U.S. Department of Justice, under the terms of the plea agreement, the defendant will pay a criminal fine $1 million, serve a term of probation of 30 months, and pay $300,000 to fund community service projects through the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Foundation.
In addition, Kassian will implement an environmental compliance program prevent such violations in the future. A sentencing date has not yet been determined.
In March 2007, Kassian was indicted on charges related to maintaining false records and obstruction of justice, and the North Princess' Second Assistant Engineer, Spyridon Markou, was charged with obstruction of justice.
Kassian pleaded guilty to a count that charged it with maintaining false records in violation of the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships.
Markou pleaded guilty today to an information charging him with making false statements to the U.S. Coast Guard in relation to the agency's inspection of the vessel in November 2006. Markou faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison, a fine of $250,000, and a term of supervised release of up to three years.
According to the plea agreements, on Nov. 20, 2006, the North Princess arrived in port in Jacksonville, Fla., and was boarded by Coast Guard officials who conducted an inspection to determine the vessel's compliance with national and international environmental laws. The Coast Guard's inspection uncovered evidence that Kassian, acting through its agents and employees, knowingly failed to maintain an accurate Oil Record Book recording all disposals of oil residue and discharges overboard, in violation of federal law.
Second Engineer Markou admitted, as part of his plea, that he made false statements to the Coast Guard regarding his knowledge of the ship's use of an illegal bypass pipe to transfer oil-contaminated waste overboard.
The case is being prosecuted by John Irving, Counsel in the Environment and Natural Resources Division, Richard Poole Senior Trial Attorney in the Environmental Crimes Section, and John Sciortino, Assistant U.S. Attorney in the Middle District of Florida.