September 7, 2007
Jury convicts tanker company in pollution case
Piraeus headquartered tanker operator Ionia Management was convicted yesterday for its role in overboard dumping of waste oil from the M/T Kriton into international waters and its efforts to impede the U.S. Coast Guard and other authorities from learning of the dumping, announced Ronald J. Tenpas, Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department's Environment and Natural Resources Division.
After a trial of two weeks in New Haven, Conn., the company was convicted on 13 counts of violating the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships, three counts of falsifying records in a federal investigation, one count of obstruction of justice, and one count of conspiracy.
The maximum fine on each count is $500,000, for a total maximum fine of $9 million. Sentencing is scheduled for November 28.
The announcement was made jointly by the Justice Department's Environment and Natural Resources Division, the U.S. Attorney's Office for Connecticut, the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of Florida, the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of New York, and the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of the U.S. Virgin Islands.
The company, which was already on probation in the Eastern District of New York, was convicted of falsifying records to conceal the illegal discharge of oil-contaminated waste and of using and presenting false oil record books and other documents to the Coast Guard in port calls in the District of Connecticut, Southern District of Florida, Eastern District of New York and the Virgin Islands.
It was also convicted of conspiracy and obstruction of justice by destroying the flexible rubber bypass hose used to dump waste overboard, while the Coast Guard was onboard the Kriton conducting its investigation.
The indictment against the company was returned on June 7, 2007 in Connecticut and Florida, on June 14, 2007 in New York, and on June 19, 2007 in the U.S. Virgin Islands.
The investigation was conducted by the Coast Guard Investigative Service, the Coast Guard Sector Long Island Sound, and the Environmental Protection Agency's Criminal Investigative Division.
Assistance was also provided by the Netherlands Royal Military Police, Ministry of Transport, Public Works, and Water Management, and Coast Guard.
The case is being prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Connecticut, the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of Florida, the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of New York, the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of the U.S. Virgin Islands, and the Environmental Crimes Section of the U.S. Department of Justice.