Foreign oil tanker owners cop to dumping oil overboard

By Samantha Latson | 05/22/2024 01:44 PM EDT

They could be on the hook for up to $2 million in fines.

A gavel sits atop a binder.

Workers on an oil tanker were caught on video dumping oil overboard. Andrew Harnik/Getty Images

Two overseas companies that own and operate oil tankers were charged and pleaded guilty to intentionally dumping oil overboard, which could result in a fine of $2 million.

The companies, Prive Overseas Marine based in Dubai and Prive Shipping Denizcilik Ticaret based in Turkey, were charged Tuesday with four felonies: conspiracy, violating the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships (AAPS,) and two counts of obstruction of justice for falsifying the tanker’s oil record book. They filed guilty pleas in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana before Chief U.S. District Court Judge Nannette Jolivette Brown. If the court approves the agreement, the companies will be fined $2 million and serve four years of probation.

“Deliberate pollution from ships, intentional falsification of records and obstruction of justice are serious environmental crimes that will be vigorously prosecuted to the full extent of the law,” said Assistant Attorney General Todd Kim of the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division. “Maritime laws regulating pollution from ships are intended to ensure that ocean waters are not used as a dumping ground.”


The criminal case was brought to light on Jan. 11, 2023, when a crew member contacted the Coast Guard in New Orleans to report a video of oil being pumped overboard, trailing behind the tanker. The ship would eventually arrive in New Orleans in two weeks, which prompted the employee and another crew member to blow the whistle and present evidence to the Coast Guard. The evidence consisting of video and photographs were filed in court by the prosecutors.