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First Engineer of ‘Zao Galaxy’ faces fine, jail term for abetting oily waste discharge

Dela Cruz was charged with abetting crew members to illegally dump oily bilge water while submitting bogus paperwork to the authorities as a cover up.

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ZAO GALAXY

The U.S. Department of Justice (DoJ) on Tuesday (20 April) said a federal jury convicted a Unix Line PTE Ltd First Engineer of aiding and abetting an environmental crime and obstruction of justice in connection with the intentional dumping oily bilge water from a commercial tanker in February of 2019.

“The crew members of the Zao Galaxy dumped oily bilge water into the ocean and then tried to cover up the environmental damage by submitting bogus paperwork to the United States Coast Guard,” said U.S. District Judge Jon S. Tigar. 

“As First Assistant Engineer of an ocean-going commercial tankship, Gilbert Dela Cruz was charged with ensuring the crew would follow the rules, not try to circumvent them.  This verdict will serve as a reminder that there are stiff penalties for those who try to violate federal and international rules designed to protect our precious natural resources from polluters.”

The DoJ said in January 2019, Dela Cruz, was the First Engineer of the M/T Zao Galaxy, a 16,408 gross-ton, ocean-going oil tankship operated by Unix Line Pte Ltd when it traveled from the Philippines to Richmond, California. 

On February 11, 2019, United States Coast Guard examiners boarded the Zao Galaxy while it was moored in Richmond to conduct an examination. 

During the examination, a crewmember passed a note to an examiner requesting a meeting after the inspection so that the crewmember could “tell something” about a “magic pipe” and “damage [to the] marine environment.” 

After the inspection and a follow-up investigation, the DoJ reported that Unix ultimately admitted a ship officer directed crew members to discharge oily bilge water overboard, using a configuration of drums, flexible pipes, and flanges to bypass the vessel’s oil water separator. 

On February 26, 2020, the company admitted the discharges were done knowingly and that they were not recorded in the vessel’s oil record book when it was presented to the U.S. Coast Guard during the vessel’s inspection. 

On March 20, 2020, Judge Tigar sentenced Unix to pay a fine of USD 1,650,000.00, placed Unix on probation for a period of four years, and ordered the company to implement a comprehensive Environmental Compliance Plan as a special condition of probation.

Notwithstanding these admissions, Dela Cruz denied responsibility for the environmental crimes and went to trial. 

In finding Dela Cruz guilty, the jury concluded Dela Cruz aided and abetted a violation of the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships by causing the captain of the Zao Galaxy to maintain an inaccurate oil record book and that he also committed obstruction of justice.

According to the evidence presented at trial, in preparation for a Coast Guard inspection in Richmond, California, Dela Cruz ordered a lower level employee who worked as his assistant to dump oily waste from the ship’s engine room directly into the ocean using a “magic pipe.” 

Dela Cruz then worked to conceal the dumping by not recording the movement or discharge of oily waste in the ship’s oil record book, which he was responsible for. 

Dela Cruz ordered that certain pieces of equipment be repainted and the “magic pipe” be hidden to avoid Coast Guard detection.  During the Coast Guard’s inspection, Dela Cruz told his assistant who had dumped the oily waste overboard not to throw him “under the bus” and that they needed to get their stories straight for the Coast Guard.

A federal grand jury indicted Dela Cruz on October 24, 2019, charging him with one count of violating the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships, one count of obstruction of justice, and one count of obstruction of an agency proceeding. 

The jury found Dela Cruz guilty of all three counts.  Dela Cruz currently faces a maximum of six years’ imprisonment and USD 250,000 for and three years of supervised release for the pollution count, 20 years’ imprisonment and USD250,000 for the obstruction of justice count, and five years of imprisonment and USD 250,000 for the obstruction of the agency proceedings count. 

Judge Tigar ordered Dela Cruz released on bond pending sentencing and scheduled the sentencing for June 11, 2021, at 9:30 a.m.

Related: U.S. court fines Singapore-based Unix Line USD 1.65 million over oily waste discharges
Related : Singapore-based Unix Line pleads guilty to illegally discharging bilge waste
Related : Singapore-based Unix Line faces charge over oily waste discharges


Photo credit: Marine Traffic / M.L.Jacobs
Published: 23 April, 2021

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Crime

Vietnam: Two ships seized over 170,000 litres of unknown origin diesel oil

Vietnam Coast Guard said vessels were transporting various quantities of oil cargo: KG-91487- DR was transporting about 145,000 litres and KG-91602-TS transported about 25,000 litres.

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Vietnam: Two ships seized over 170,000 litres of unknown origin diesel oil

The Vietnam Coast Guard on Tuesday (20 February) said it seized a total of about 170,000 litres of unknown origin diesel oil in an operation. 

Patrol boats belonging to Coast Guard Region 4 Command detected two fishing boats – KG-91487- DR and KG-91602-TS – displaying several suspicious signs.

Initial investigations found all vessels without invoices and documents proving legal origin of the oil material.

The vessels were transporting various quantities of oil material: KG-91487- DR was transporting about 145,000 litres and KG-91602-TS transported about 25,000 litres.

The authorities made records of administrative violations,and escorted the vessels to Fleet Port 422 in Phú Quốc city, Kiên Giang province for further investigations and handling in accordance with the law.

 

Photo credit: Vietnam Coast Guard
Published: 23 February, 2024

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Winding up

Xihe Holdings liquidators issue intended dividend notice to creditors

Creditors will need to produce proofs of debt to liquidators of the company by 8 March 2024 at 5pm, according to Government Gazette notice.

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RESIZED Drew Beamer

A notice to declare intended dividend of Xihe Holdings Pte Ltd to its creditors has been posted on Singapore’s Government Gazette on Friday (16 February). 

Xihe Holdings Pte Ltd and its subsidiaries are owned by the Lim family, who are also the owners of the embattled Hin Leong Trading.

Details of the notice of intended dividend are as follows:

Name of Company : Xihe Holdings (Pte) Ltd (In Liquidation)

Unique Entity No. / Registration No. : 199002021M

Address of Registered Office : c/o Grant Thornton Singapore Private Limited 8 Marina View #40-04/05 Asia Square Tower 1 Singapore 018960

Court : High Court of Singapore

Number of Matter : HC/CWU 40/2022

Last Day for Receiving Proofs : 8 March 2024 at 5:00 pm by email to [email protected] 

Name of Liquidators : Seshadri Rajagopalan, Paresh Tribhovan Jotangia and Ho May Kee

Address : c/o Grant Thornton Singapore Private Limited, 8 Marina View #40-04/05 Asia Square Tower 1

Singapore 018960

 

Photo credit: Drew Beamer
Published: 21 February, 2024

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Legal

Malaysia: MMEA detains modified fishing boat suspected of smuggling diesel oil

Three men, aged 32 to 40, were suspected to be involved in smuggling the subsidised oil estimated to be 6,000 litres, worth almost MYR 13,000 (USD 2,712).

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Malaysia: MMEA detains modified fishing boat suspected of smuggling diesel oil

The Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) on Monday (19 February) said it detained a fishing vessel and three local men who were onboard after they allegedly tried to smuggle 6,000 litres of diesel worth MYR 13,000 (USD 2,712) on 18 February. 

In the 11pm incident, the men, aged 32 to 40, onboard the ship were found with the diesel at 0.6 nautical miles north of Pulau Langgun, Langkawi. 

“During the inspection of the boat in question, officers found there was an additional space on the deck and covered with plywood in the intention of hiding it from authorities,” said MMEA. 

Malaysia: MMEA detains modified fishing boat suspected of smuggling diesel oil

“Officers then proceeded to dismantle the plywood and found two storage containers that were converted into extra oil barrels.”

“As a result of that discovery, the suspects are suspected to be involved in smuggling subsidised oil estimated to be 6,000 litres, worth almost MYR 13,000.”

MMEA detained the fishing vessel and men before they were brought to Bukit Malut Maritime Jetty for further investigations.

 

Photo credit: Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency
Published: 20 February, 2024

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