October 3, 2008
Indictments brought in pollution case
Here's another in the dreary procession of "magic pipe" cases, containing allegations of all the usual elements--including bypassing the OWS and lying to the Coast Guard.
Two foreign companies that own and operate the Cypriot flag chemical tanker Nautilus (IMO No. 9150767), were yesterday indicted in federal court, along with the ship's Chief Engineer, were indicted today in federal court for covering up discharges of oil-contaminated waste at sea.
United States Attorney Michael J. Sullivan and Rear Admiral Dale G. Gabel, United States Coast Guard, Commander, First Coast Guard District, announced today that Consultores de Navegacion, S.A., a Spanish company, Iceport Shipping Company Ltd., a Cypriot company, and Chief Engineer Carmelo Oria, age 52, of Spain, were charged in a superseding indictment with one count of conspiracy, one count of violating the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships (APPS) by failing to maintain an accurate ship record concerning the disposal of oil-contaminated waste, and one count of making false statements to United States Coast Guard authorities regarding the pumping of oil-contaminated waste overboard.
In addition, Consultores and Iceport Shipping were charged with one count of falsifying records with an intent to impede the administration of a federal agency matter and one count of obstruction of justice.
The Equasis data base shows that Iceport is the registered owner of the vessel and that Consultores is the ship manager. The 1998-built, 26,794 gt Nautilus is the sole vessel in the Iceport fleet according to Equasis. Consultores shows up as the ship manager for five other Cyprus-registered chemical/products tankers.
The superseding indictment alleges that between June 2007 and March 2008, Consultores and Iceport Shipping, acting through Oria and senior engineers on the M/T Nautilus, directed subordinate engine room crew members to use a metal pipe to bypass the M/T Nautilus's Oil Water Separator and instead discharge oil-contaminated waste directly overboard.
In particular, the superseding indictment alleges that on two occasions in August 2007, a Ukranian chief engineer of the M/T Nautilus directed the discharge of pollution overboard, and that on March 18, 2008, Oria directed the discharge of pollution overboard.
Thereafter, alleges the indictment, on March 22, 2008, in the port of Boston, Massachusetts, the Defendants made and used a false Oil Record Book that failed to disclose prior discharges into the ocean of oil-contaminated waste by the M/T Nautilus. The Defendants are alleged to have knowingly maintained an Oil Record Book that failed to disclose the overboard discharge of oil-contaminated waste without the use of the ship's pollution prevention equipment. The superseding indictment further alleges that, on March 23, 2008, the Defendants falsely stated to United States Coast Guard authorities that, among other things, Oria never ordered the pumping of oil-contaminated waste overboard. If convicted, Consultores and Iceport Shipping face a statutory maximum fine of $500,000 on each of the five counts or, alternatively, twice the gross gain resulting from the offenses. If convicted on the conspiracy charge, Oria faces up to five years imprisonment, to be followed by three years of supervised release and a $250,000 fine. If convicted on the APPS charge, Oria faces up to six years imprisonment, to be followed by three years of supervised release and a $250,000 fine. If convicted of the false statements charge, Oria faces up to 5 years imprisonment, to be followed by three years of supervised release and a $250,000 fine.
The case was investigated by the U.S. Coast Guard, Sector Boston, Coast Guard Investigative Service, New England Region. It is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Linda M. Ricci of Sullivan's Economic Crimes Unit and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Christopher Jones of the United States Coast Guard First District Legal Office.