Monday, November 5, 2018

German Shipping Company Fined Yet Again for Magic Pipe Scandal  

Falsifying Records, Obstruction of Justice Costs Millions in Fines

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Shipping News Feature US – GERMANY – One sometimes wonders if those shipping companies which employ the 'Magic Pipe' system of illegally disposing of oily water pollution whilst at sea act out of stupidity or arrogance. Certainly when MST Mineralien Schiffahrt Spedition und Transport GmbH (MST) was prosecuted in 2016 for dumping sludge into the Great Lakes from its vessel Cornelia one might have expected the $800,000 fine might prove a suitable deterrent.

Unfortunately it seems that the penalty imposed by the Court in the District of Minnesota for falsifying the oil record book on at least ten occasions did little or nothing to dissuade the ship operator from continuing the practice. Now MST has been forced to plead guilty to obstruction of justice and maintaining false official records to conceal deliberate pollution yet again.

False log book entries over a 9 month period came to light when the company vessel Marguerita was inspected in Portland, Maine and the company was still on probation for the previous offences which actually occurred in 2015. This time the penalties were suitably more severe.

The Court ruled that the Bavarian registered company pay a $3.2 million fine and extended the probation for a further four years. In that period the company must prove, via the services of an independent auditor, that its vessels follow an environmental compliance plan.

The Marguerita was constructed in China in 2016 but MST chose to hold her naming ceremony in Portland at the Ocean Gateway Terminal when she docked in the port to deliver clay slurry from Brazil. Like the Cornelia she was designed to navigate through the Great Lakes waterways.

We note that the management of the Marguerita, along with five other ships, was passed to MINSHIP Shipmanagement, a company registered at the same address as MST, on October 1, the very same day that company announced the appointment of a new director, Markus Hiltl, who was previously Chartering Manager at MST, alongside other staff who also seem to have transferred between the two companies. Doubtless those overseeing the probation will be watching. 

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