Norwegian shipowner sentenced to prison for role in notorious scrapping case

Written by Nick Blenkey
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George Eide, the Norwegian shipowner at the heart of a controversial ship scrapping case that first hit the headlines in 2017, has been sentenced to a prison term.

Attempts to illegally export the vessel on which the case centers, the Tide Carrier, from Norway first came to light when the ship suffered an engine failure and started to drift off the Norwegian coast. Inspectors from the Norwegian Maritime Authority (NMA) detained the ship due to its condition. They were presented with invalid certificate of nationality from the Comoros, along with false class certificates from the Union Marine Class Society.”

NGO Shipbreaking Platform reports that, last Friday, the Sunnhordland District Court in Norway sentenced Eide to six months unconditional imprisonment for having assisted scrap buyer Wirana Shipping Corporation in an attempt to illegally export the Tide Carrier (aka Eide Carrier and Harrier) to Pakistan for scrapping. The court also ordered the confiscation of criminal dividends of NOK 2 million (about $227,000) from Eide Marine Eidendom AS.

“The scrapping of obsolete ships is a major international environmental problem. As a large maritime nation, it is important that the Norwegian authorities contribute to the fight against this problem,” said Bache Dahl.

Eide may appeal the verdict.

Attempt to illegally export ship failed after it got into difficulties off Norwegian coast [Norwegian Coast Guard photo]

As we reported previously, last October Singapore headquartered Wirana, one of the world’s largest cash buyers of vessels for scrap, accepted and paid a Norwegian penalty of NOK 7 million (about $764,000) for its role in the case.

After a decade in lay-up in Norway, notes NGO Shipbreaking Platform, the Tide Carrier was sold to Wirana. The intent was to scrap the ship on the beach of Gadani in Pakistan. NGO Shipbreaking Platform and its its member organization Bellona, tipped off the police about the imminent illegal export in February 2017. The vessel was arrested upon finding onboard a “last voyage for breaking in Pakistan insurance” issued by Skuld Maritime Agency and two certificates issued on the same day by Marine Warranty Surveyor Aqualis Offshore—one for a voyage with the purpose of refurbishment work in Dubai and one for a last voyage to the scrapyards in Pakistan.

“Eide has been charged with complicity in violation of international waste law. The judgement acts as a stark warning that dodgy deals with cash buyers aimed at scrapping vessels on South Asian beaches, where there is no capacity and infrastructure to recycle and dispose of hazardous wastes in a safe and environmentally sound manner, are a serious crime,” says Ingvild Jenssen, Director of NGO Shipbreaking Platform. “It also cautions that due diligence is a must for not only shipowners, but also insurers and Marine Warranty Surveyors, to avoid any business relationship with companies that have terrible track records.”

Waste exports are strictly regulated in Norwegian, European and international law. The purpose is to protect developing countries from the dumping of hazardous wastes and the harm caused to workers, surrounding communities and the environment when toxics are not treated in an environmentally sound manner. Ships contain numerous toxic materials such as asbestos, heavy metals in paints and residue oils. Last year, the Basel Convention Ban Amendment entered into global force, banning the export of hazardous wastes, including end-of-life ships, from OECD to non OECD countries. The EU transposed the Ban Amendment into EU Law in 1997.

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