November 15, 2007
USCG adopts Voluntary Disclosure Policy on enviromental crimes
The U.S. Coast Guard has adopted a Voluntary Disclosure Policy with respect to environmental crimes, reports law firm Holland & Knight.
According to Holland & Knight's maritime newsletter, "this policy was adapted from the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and is consistent with similar policies adopted by the Department of Justice and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). If an entity (such as a ship owner or operator) adopts a qualifying compliance management system to prevent, detect, and correct violations and then promptly and voluntarily reports a violation discovered through such system, the Coast Guard will not normally recommend to the Department of Justice that criminal charges be brought against the disclosing entity."
Holland & Knight says that formal adoption of the policy is "a major step forward in removing the threat of criminal prosecution from maritime companies seriously interested in compliance with applicable environmental laws. It is now up to those companies to implement the steps necessary to take advantage of this opportunity."