Friday, December 4, 2009

More Allegations Of Corruption In US Trucking Industry

Truck Leasing Company Stand Accused of Bribing Tennessee Court Official whilst California in a Fog over Pollution Ruling
Shipping News Feature

US – Following on yesterday’s report of a $100 million plus scam by haulage operators in Wisconsin comes another set of allegations of bribery and corruption in the truck industry, this time in Memphis, Tennessee. Three employees of Fleet Equipment and Leasing, who sell and lease freight vehicles stand accused of bribing a Shelby County Court official.

Two of the accused, William and James Welch are apparently in custody after indictment on several charges of bribery and conspiracy to bribe a public servant. The third man has not yet been apprehended.

The offences were allegedly committed when the company wished to facilitate faster registration transactions and for more vehicles than was permissible.The recipient of the bribes is reportedly Julia Lynn Marshall, a Court title clerk who stands accused and indicted for the receipt of money to process over 150 separate title transactions.

The current cases follow similar offences committed at Millington County Court in May when eleven clerks were indicted and await their cases coming to Court. The fact that the employees were operating as officials for the state is liable to weigh heavily against them if found guilty. Sentences could conceivably be as much as twelve years imprisonment.

Meanwhile in California confusion reigns over the California Air Resources Board (CARB) legislation which requires truck fleets to ensure all lorries are fitted with particulate filters from 2012. By CARB’s own reckoning the cost to hauliers and drayage companies would come to around $6 to $10 billion and now the word is that CARB officials knew, on the eve of introducing the legislation in 2008 that one of the principal authors of the report on which the legislation was based, was actually not qualified as he had claimed.

CARB, the body which has control over freight trucking in the state as holders of the Drayage Register to allow access to the Ports of Los Angeles, Long Beach etc. stand accused of covering up the fact that Hien T. Tran, team leader and diesel particulate specialist, in fact had no qualifications for the position and that, rather than revealing the fact and therefore compromising the report, they merely disciplined him internally and kept quiet.

Two days after Tran’s admission that he did not have the Doctorate degree he had claimed, the board went ahead with passing the Truck and Bus Rule which now means, assuming all allegations are proven, that prosecutions under the rule may face disqualification from the Courts in extreme cases. Fines collected under anti pollution regulations initiated by CARB apparently amount close to $10 million so far this year.

The controversy will leave supporters of CARB distraught as the agency is viewed as being both scrupulous and diligent in matters of the environment. Opponents, of whom there are quite a few, will needless to say delight in the boards discomfort in an effort to discredit the new rules designed to effectively reduce pollution levels .

Pic: The inimitable late Mr Brian Glover as “Cyril”