A Czech seafarer was awarded $225,000 for blowing the whistle on his employer, a German shipping company, over maintaining false official records to conceal deliberate pollution from its ship ‘Marguerita’.
The case was brought in the spotlight in November 2018, when the USCG informed that the German company MST Mineralien Schiffahrt Spedition und Transport GmbH (MST) pleaded guilty to one count of violating the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships and one count of obstruction of justice for using 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.
US District Court Judge Nancy Torresen sentenced the company pursuant to a plea agreement and ordered it to pay a $3.2 million criminal 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.
The November version of the plea agreement superseded an earlier version, to include a reward for whistle-blowing crew members, as part of the fine. This allowed the court to set aside up to $250,000 for people who helped with the conviction.
From these, 225,000 went to the primary whistle-blower and the rest $12,500 was split between two other crewmen who were initially part of the illegal scheme, but they later helped with the investigation against their employer, according to Press Herald.
The company 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.
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