U.S. Charges New Zealand Fishing Company Alleging Environmental Crimes and Obstruction of Justice

Posted: 12/08/2011 in all marine news

gCaptain – 

A New Zealand fishing company has been charged by the U.S. Department of Justice for violating environmental laws and obstruction of justice.

The case is the latest in a crackdown by the USCG targeting foreign vessels violating the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships law.

The seven-count indictment was handed down Tuesday to Sanford Ltd., a New Zealand based company that operates fishing vessels delivering to American Samoa. Prosecutors allege that one of the company’s vessels, the F/V San Nikunau, routinely discharged oily bilge waste directly into the sea during since at least 2007, a direct violation of the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships.

Investigators also allege the company failed to accurately maintain an oil record book and presented false documents to Coast Guard inspectors.

If convicted, Sanford Ltd. could be fined up to $500,000 per count. The indictment also seeks payment of more than $24 million for proceeds the company made as a result of the criminal conduct.

The case is being prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia and by the Environmental Crimes Section of the Environment and Natural Resources Division of the Department of Justice.

In June, Greek ship operator Noka Shipping Company was found guilty of similar charges and was ordered to pay $900,000.

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