Whistleblowers could collect $500K in tanker pollution case

Written by Nick Blenkey
Whistleblower crewmembers ship

Two Whistleblower crewmembers on PS Dream alerted USCG to pollution incident. [USCG photograph]

Two whistleblower crewmembers could be awarded up to $500,000, if a plea deal filed in New Orleans federal court yesterday is approved by the court. Two related companies that operated the motor tanker PS Dream – Prive Overseas Marine LLC and Prive Shipping Denizcilik Ticaret – pleaded guilty to conspiracy, knowingly violating the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships (APPS) and obstruction of justice related to the falsification of the tanker’s Oil Record Book, which is a required log.

The guilty pleas were entered in federal court in New Orleans before Chief U.S. District Court Judge Nannette Jolivette Brown. If the court approves the plea agreement, the companies will be fined a total of $2 million and serve four years of probation. Separate charges have been filed against Captain Abdurrahman Korkmaz, a Turkish national who was the ship’s master.

According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Louisiana. The proposed $2 million criminal penalty includes $500,000 in organizational community service payments that will fund various maritime environmental projects in the Eastern District of Louisiana. Those projects will be managed by the congressionally established National Fish & Wildlife Foundation. The court also has authority to award up to $500,000, half of the APPS portion of the fine, to the whistleblowers that provided evidence leading to conviction.

Prive Overseas Marine is based in Dubai and Prive Shipping is based in Turkey. The corporations were charged with four felonies: conspiracy, an APPS violation and two counts of obstruction of justice. Captain Korkmaz was charged with two counts: a violation of APPS and obstructing the Coast Guard’s inspection of the ship.

Video and photographic images provided by the whistleblowers were filed in court by the prosecutors.

“Today’s outcome sends a powerful message: those who falsify logs and take deliberate actions to conceal pollution will face significant consequences,” said Captain Greg Callaghan, Deputy Commander of U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) Sector New Orleans. “The Coast Guard and our partners remain steadfast in our shared commitment to safeguarding our waters and holding accountable those who threaten our marine ecosystems. We encourage individuals to continue reporting any suspicious activities, as each report plays a crucial role in protecting the marine environment.”

“This case involved deceit and willful pollution, and this prosecution is intended to hold both the corporations and individuals accountable,” said U.S. Attorney Duane A. Evans for the Eastern District of Louisiana. “Criminal prosecutions are needed to deter deliberate efforts to circumvent our nation’s anti-pollution laws. Importantly, $500,000 of the criminal penalty will go toward environmental protection of the marine environment in our area.”

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