On May 22, 2013, Diana Shipping Services S.A., a Panamanian corporation headquartered in Greece, the Chief Engineer, Ioannis Prokakis and the Second Engineer, Antonios Boumpoutelos, both Greek citizens, were indicted in an eleven (11) count superseding indictment alleging the illegal discharging of waste oil and oil-contaminated waste water in violation of the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships.
In September 2012, crewmembers of the M/V Thetis, a cargo vessel operated by Diana Shipping Services, reported that the vessel was discharging its bilge waste and sludge illegally by various means, including a “magic pipe” that bypassed the oily water separator. USCG inspectors boarded the vessel when it entered port in Norfolk and discovered the “magic pipe.” The USGC inspectors also found that the oily water separator was non-functioning. The USCG inspectors were also presented with an oil record book that contained false entries made by Prokakis and Boumpoutelos. During the inspection, Prokakis lied to USCG inspectors about the “magic pipe” and told other members of the engineering crew to not disclose its existence to the USCG inspectors.
Diana Shipping, Prokakis, and Boumpoutelos were convicted on Friday August 9, 2013, after a twelve (12) day bench trial on all charges (conspiracy, knowing failure to fully maintain an oil record book, falsification of records and concealing tangible objects in a federal investigation) related to the illegal discharge of waste oil and oil-contaminated waste water from the M/V Thetis. Prokakis was also convicted of obstruction of justice for ordering crewmembers to lie to USCG inspectors.
Sentencing is scheduled for November 8, 2013. Diana Shipping faces a maximum fine of $5,500,000.00 and five (5) years probation. Prokakis and Boumpoutelos face a maximum sentence of five (5) years for the conspiracy conviction, six (6) years on the oil record book conviction, and twenty (20) years on the falsification of record conviction. Prokakis faces an additional five (5) year sentence for obstruction of justice.
The case was tried to United States District Court Judge Mark S. Davis of the Eastern District of Virginia.
David G. McLeod, Jr., Special Agent in Charge of the USEPA’s criminal enforcement program for the Middle Atlantic States stated: “Today's guilty verdict should send a clear message that our collaborative efforts will lead to the vigorous prosecution of those who despoil our oceans and violate our nation’s environmental laws.”
You would think shipping companies would get the message; however, it is clear that they do not.
As always, please feel free to contact me at [email protected].