Singapore Company Fined for Illegal Scrapping Attempt
A Singapore company has paid a NOK 7 million ($763,000) fine after it was caught trying to illegally export a barge carrier vessel from Norway for scrapping on the beaches in Pakistan, Norwegian authorities said.
In 2017, inspectors from the Norwegian Maritime Authority (NMA) detained the Harrier, previously named Tide Carrier, when it suffered an engine failure and started to drift outside Jæren in Rogaland.
Wirana Shipping Corporation, a company which buys discarded ships and sells them to scrap yards at beaches in India and Pakistan, was the commercial manager for the voyage and in charge of the ship's route, the purpose of the voyage and its execution.
The owner of the Harrier was a company registered in Saint Kitts and Nevis, and Wirana Shipping Corporation used a management company to undertake the voyage.
As the Harrier started to drift outside the beaches of Jæren, the Norwegian authorities would not allow the ship to leave Norway without permission. As a result, the chief financial officer at Wirana Shipping Corporation made a fictitious agreement stating that the ship would be put in operational use outside Africa, referring to two statements from third parties supporting the Africa agreement. This turned out to be untrue, as the ship was being exported for scrapping.
NMA discovered that an attempt was being made to illegally export the ship from Høylandsbygd, Norway for scrapping in Gadani, Pakistan. Moreover, an invalid certificate of nationality from the Comoros was presented along with false class certificates from the Union Marine Class Society.
The fine comprises two cases of false statements to the public authorities, as these documents were presented to the Ministry of Climate and Environment a violation of the Pollution Control Act based on the risk of pollution caused by the voyage, because necessary maintenance of the engine was performed when the ship was anchored at Feistein outside Klepp with no tugboat on standby.
The ship had been laid up for 10 years prior to the voyage, and there was an imminent risk of acute pollution as the ship started to drift, according to the Norwegian Coastal Administration. As stated in the fine, there were 1,500 cubic meters of oily liquids in the tanks of the ship, waste attempted to be exported illegally from Norway. An oil spillage outside the beaches of Jæren would have an extremely harmful effect on flora and fauna in the area, and the associated clean-up costs could have been substantial, NMA said.
NMA said the fine for violations of the Pollution Control Act and the General Civil Penal Code has already been paid, as Wirana Shipping Corporation had provided security in case of termination of encumbrance, pursuant to a decision made by Oslo District Court before the ship left Norway in July 2018.
"The company deliberately deceived Norwegian authorities by presenting false documentation proving that the vessel complied with all requirements of the international conventions included in the Regulations on Port State Control," said Kjetil Sørensen, Senior Adviser at the NMA. "We take this very seriously and are pleased that the prosecuting authorities have given such a distinct response."
NMA said the fine sends a clear message to the industry to take problems related to illegal scrapping seriously.