Capital, two engineers charged in box ship pollution case

Written by Marine Log Staff
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Piraeus, Greece, headquartered Capital Ship Management Corporation and two of its chief engineers have been named in a five-count federal indictment charging them with failing to record the illegal dumping of oily waste into international waters and then obstructing justice by ordering the ship’s crew to lie about it.

A federal grand jury returned the indictment June 20 against Capital, Ioan Luca, 54, a Romanian national and from October 2018 to January 2019 the chief engineer of the 9,228 TEU containership M/V CMA CGM Amazon, and Ionel Surla, 60, a Romanian national and the chief engineer of the Amazon from May 2018 to October 2018, and who is believed to be in Romania.

The defendants are charged with multiple felonies, including conspiracy to fail to maintain an accurate oil record book and to defraud the United States, failure to maintain an accurate oil record book, falsification of records in a matter of federal administration, witness tampering, and obstruction of justice.

The indictment alleges that Luca and, previously, Surla ordered crew members to use a portable pump and flexible hoses in the ship’s engine room to transfer oil-contaminated bilge water to a tank designed to hold clean water, then dispose of the water directly overboard into international waters, avoiding use of the vessel’s oily water separator.

Luca and Surla then failed to record the discharges in the ship’s oil record book, a document required by federal law. The Amazon‘s ports of call include various ports in Asia, Egypt, and Canada, as well as the Port of Los Angeles, according to the indictment. While at the Port of Los Angeles on January 11, the ship presented the false oil record book to U.S. Coast Guard inspectors during an inspection, the indictment alleges.

Capital Ship Management and Luca also have been charged with obstruction of justice and witness tampering for allegedly instructing crew members to lie to the Coast Guard about events that occurred on the ship while at sea. In conducting the investigation, Coast Guard personnel relied on the statements of the ship’s crew as well as documents, the indictment states.

If convicted of all charges, Luca faces a statutory maximum sentence of 61 years in federal prison while Surla faces a statutory maximum sentence of 11 years in federal prison. Capital Ship Management and Luca, who was arrested last month and is free on bond, were previously named in a criminal complaint, says the U.S. Department of Jusice.

In a related case, Marian Gavriluta-Strat, 37, a Romanian national and the Amazon‘s second engineer, has agreed to plead guilty to an information charging him with failure and causing the failure to maintain an accurate oil record book. 

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