New Zealand Fishing Company Indicted for Enviromental Crimes and Obstruction of Justice.
A federal grand jury in Washington, D.C., has returned a seven-count indictment charging Sanford Ltd. with violating the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships (APPS), conspiracy and obstruction of justice, announced Assistant Attorney General Ignacia S. Moreno and United States Attorney Ronald C. Machen Jr.
Sanford Ltd. is a New Zealand based company that operates the Fishing Vessel (F/V) San Nikunau, a vessel that routinely delivers tuna to a cannery in American Samoa. The indictment describes a conspiracy where the crew of the vessel routinely discharged oily bilge waste from the vessel directly into the sea during its fishing voyages since at least 2007. Sanford Ltd. was also charged with violating the APPS for failing to accurately maintain an oil record book for the vessel and with obstruction of justice for presenting false documents and deceiving the Coast Guard during an inspection.
If convicted, Sanford Ltd. could be fined up to $500,000 per count or twice the gross gain or loss that resulted from the criminal conduct. The indictment also seeks criminal forfeiture from Sanford Ltd. of more than $24 million for proceeds derived by Sanford Ltd. as a result of the criminal conduct.
An indictment is merely a formal charge that a defendant has committed a violation of criminal laws and every defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.
This case was investigated by the U.S. Coast Guard. The case is being prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Columbia and by the Environmental Crimes Section of the Environment and Natural Resources Division of the Department of Justice.