A Ship Captain and Chief Engineers of two foreign flag vessels have been arrested and charged with keeping false log books to conceal the dumping of waste oil and sludge from two ships, obstructing a Coast Guard investigation, and obstruction of justice for allegedly telling crew members to lie to a federal grand jury. The arrests, supported by criminal complaints, were announced by Timothy M. Burgess, United States Attorney for Alaska and Thomas L. Sansonetti, Assistant Attorney General for the Environment Division of the U.S. Department of Justice.
The defendants are Doo Hyon Kim, the Captain of the M/V Khana, In Ho Kim, the Chief Engineer of the Khana, and Min Gwen Go, the Chief Engineer of the M/V Sohoh. A preliminary hearing was held today in U.S. District Court in Anchorage for Doo Hyon Kim. The other two defendant's are scheduled for hearings tomorrow.
According to the criminal complaints filed in U.S. District Court in Anchorage, the Khana and Sohoh are Panamanian flagged freighter vessels operated by a Korean company that carries frozen seafood to Asia. In February, the United States Coast Guard detained the Khana, the Sohoh, and two other freighters under common management, in Dutch Harbor
, Alaska, for possible violations of the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships.
During Coast Guard inspections, agency inspectors found oil laden bypass hoses on the two ships which they believed were used to circumvent or "bypass" the Oil Water Separator, a required pollution prevention device. Oil was found by the Coast Guard in the overboard discharge valve where only clean water would ordinarily be located. Special Agents from the United States Coast Guard, Environmental Protection Agency and the Federal Bureau of Investigation subsequently executed search warrants on the ships, according to documents filed in Court.
According to the criminal complaint, not only was oil contaminated bilge waste
and sludge dumped overboard without the use of the Oil Water Separator, but the Captain and Chief Engineers of the two ships held meetings at which the lower level crew members were told to lie. This allegedly took place even after the crew members had been served with grand jury subpoenas. Crew members on both ships identified rubber hoses with metal fittings attached on each end that were used to bypass the Oil Water Separator. The criminal complaints further allege that the defendants maintained false Oil Record Books, a required log in which all overboard discharges are to be recorded and which are relied upon by the Coast Guard.
If convicted, the defendants could face up to five years in prison and up to a $250,000 criminal fine (or up to twice the gross gain or loss from the crime) for the alleged false statements, in violation of 18 U.S.C. Section 1001, and obstruction of an agency proceeding, in violation of 18 U.S.C. 1505. The alleged obstruction of justice by ordering subpoenaed crew members to testify falsely, known as "witness tampering," in violation of 18 U.S.C. Section 1512 carries a maximum term of imprisonment of ten years.
This matter is being investigated by the United States Coast Guard Criminal Investigative Service, the Environmental Protection Agency Criminal Investigations Division and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and is being prosecuted by the United States Attorney's Office for Alaska and the Environmental Crimes Section of the United States Department of Justice.