German shipping company, MST Mineralien Schiffahrt Spedition und Transport GmbH (MST), was sentenced and ordered to pay a USD 3.2 million criminal fine due to hiding oil pollution.
According to the US Department of Justice, the company pleaded guilty and was sentenced in Portland, Maine, for obstruction of justice and maintaining false official records to conceal deliberate pollution from its ship the M/V Marguerita.
Namely, the company used falsified log books to hide intentional discharges of oily bilge waste occurring over a nine-month period during which the ship regularly made port calls in Portland, Maine.
According to documents filed in court, MST discharged oily bilge waste from the Marguerita through the use of a so-called “magic pipe” that bypasses required pollution prevention equipment.
Pursuant to a plea agreement, the company was ordered to pay a USD 3.2 million fine and serve a four-year term of probation during which vessels operated by the company will be required to implement an environmental compliance plan, including inspections by an independent auditor.
MST, a vessel operator based in Bavaria, Germany, was convicted of similar environmental crimes in the District of Minnesota in 2016. That federal case involved the falsification of the oil record book for the M/V Cornelia, which concealed deliberate discharges of oil-contaminated bilge waste, including discharges into the Great Lakes. MST was on probation in the District of Minnesota when it committed the crimes charged in Maine.