The following is the text of a press release issued by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Eastern District of Texas:
(BEAUMONT, Texas) — U.S. Attorney John M. Bales announced that a federal grand jury has indicted two European shipping corporations this week for environmental crimes in the Eastern District of Texas.
CIMPSHIP TRANSPORTES MARITIMOS, S.A., a Portuguese corporation headquartered in Funchal, Portugal, and ERSHIP S.A., a Spanish corporation headquartered in Madrid, Spain, have been indicted and charged with conspiring to violate environmental laws causing willful pollution of waterways within the Eastern District of Texas.
According to the indictment, CIMPSHIP owned the Niebla, a 38,000 ton ocean-going ship, which was operated by ERSHIP as a bulk-freight carrier transporting bulk cargo from various ports in the Gulf Coast including Port Arthur, Texas. It is alleged that from Mar. 2008 through Aug. 2009, Niebla crew members, on behalf of CIMPSHIP and ERSHIP, failed to maintain an Oil Record Book as required by federal law.
If convicted, the corporations each face a fine of up to $500,000 for each of the 18 counts charged in the indictment.
This case is being investigated by the U.S. Coast Guard and prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Kevin D. Collins and Joseph R. Batte.
It is important to note that an indictment should not be considered as evidence of guilt and that all defendants charged with a crime are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.