US Maritime Commission Collects $520,000 in Penalties

Posted by Eric Haun
Friday, February 19, 2016
The U.S. Federal Maritime Commission (FMC, the federal agency responsible for regulating the nation’s international ocean transportation, has completed compromise agreements recovering a total of $520,000 in civil penalties, announced FMC Chairman, Mario Cordero.
 
The agreements were reached with four ocean transportation intermediaries (both non-vessel-operating common carriers and freight forwarders) and one vessel-operating common carrier. The agreed penalties resulted from investigations conducted by the Commission’s Area Representatives in Seattle and New York, and by Washington D.C. headquarters staff. The parties settled and agreed to penalties, but did not admit to violations of the Shipping Act or Commission regulations.
 
In making the announcement, Chairman Cordero said, “The agreements and penalties announced today demonstrate the continued hard work and vigilance of the Commission’s Area Representatives and Bureau of Enforcement to protect the shipping public from fraud and unfair practices. Our objectives are to ensure fair trade and compliance by all segments of the maritime industry, vessel operators and OTIs alike.”
 
The compromise agreements are:
 
Volkswagen Konzernlogistiks GmbH & Co. OHG.
Volkswagen Konzernlogistiks GmbH & Co. OHG (VWKL), based in Wolfsburg, Germany, is a vessel-operating common carrier providing roll on-roll off (RO-RO) services in the carriage of new and used automobile and other rolling stock. Respondent voluntarily disclosed that, over an extended time period, VWKL operated pursuant to unfiled space charters with other operators of RO-RO vessels, or pursuant to agreement amendments which were filed with the Commission but not yet effective under section 6 of the Shipping Act, 46 U.S.C. 41102(b). In light of the voluntary nature of the disclosure, VWKL paid $170,000 in penalties.
 
Orient Star Transport International Ltd.
Orient Star Transport International Ltd. is a foreign-based registered non-vessel-operating common carrier (NVOCC) based in Taipei, Taiwan. Commission staff alleged that Respondent obtained ocean transportation for property at less than the rates and charges otherwise applicable through the unfair device or means of utilizing rates limited to certain “named accounts” in UASC service contracts; and by providing transportation to its customers at rates not in accordance with Orient Star’s NVOCC tariff. Orient Star made a payment of $135,000 in compromise of these allegations, and agreed to cooperate with respect to ongoing investigative activity into the transportation activities of other parties.
 
Ba-Shi Yuexin Logistics Development Co. Ltd.
Ba-Shi Yuexin Logistics Development Co. Ltd is a licensed and bonded NVOCC based in Alhambra, Calf. It was alleged that Respondent obtained ocean transportation for property at less than the rates and charges otherwise applicable through the unfair device or means of utilizing rates limited to certain “named accounts” in its service contract with NYK Line; and by providing transportation to its customers at rates not in accordance with Ba-Shi’s NVOCC tariff. Under the terms of the compromise, Respondent paid $100,000 in penalties.
 
Thornley & Pitt, Inc.
Thornley & Pitt, Inc. is a licensed NVOCC and freight forwarder located in Millbrae, Calif. Commission staff alleged that Thornley & Pitt knowingly and willfully obtained transportation at less than applicable rates by means of improperly obtaining access to service contracts to which Thornley & Pitt was not the contract signatory. Under the terms of the compromise, Respondent made a payment of $65,000.
 
Razor Enterprise Inc. d/b/a Razor Cargo Services.
Razor Enterprise Inc., doing business as Razor Cargo Services, is a licensed NVOCC and freight forwarder with offices in Jamaica, N.Y. It was alleged that Razor Cargo Services knowingly and willfully obtained transportation at less than applicable rates by means of improperly obtaining access to service contracts to which Razor was not the contract signatory. Respondent made a payment of $50,000 in compromise of these allegations.

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