ENRD Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Kate Konschnik Readout on Combating Illegal Logging and Associated Trade During Meeting at APEC 2023
On June 9, vessel Chief Engineer Denys Korotkiy was convicted of conspiracy to obstruct justice, obstruction of justice, and failure to maintain an accurate oil record book for the vessel Donald in San Diego, California, following a five-day jury trial. Interunity Management (Deutschland) GMBH, a vessel operating company, previously pleaded guilty for maintaining false and incomplete records relating to the discharge of oily bilge water.
The evidence showed that oily bilge water was illegally dumped from the Donald directly into the ocean through the vessel’s sewage tank without being properly processed through required pollution prevention equipment. Oily bilge water typically contains oil contamination from the operation and cleaning of machinery on the vessel. These illegal discharges were not recorded in the vessel’s oil record book as required by law. The evidence also showed that Korotkiy made false and fictitious entries in the oil record book claiming transfers of oily bilge had been made from the vessel’s engine room bilge wells to the vessel’s Bilge Holding Tank when, in fact, those transfers had not been made. Finally, the evidence showed that Korotkiy conspired with others to obstruct the U.S. Coast Guard’s inspection and investigation into the mishandling of oily bilge water onboard the motor vessel Donald.
At the conclusion of the trial, the court remanded Chief Engineer Korotkiy to custody. Sentencing is scheduled for Sept. 1.
“The illegal discharge of oily bilge water at sea and the falsification and destruction of records in order to obstruct the United States’ ability to investigate those discharges are crimes we take seriously,” said Assistant Attorney General Todd Kim of the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division. “The Department of Justice will continue to work with our partner agencies to ensure polluters are held fully accountable.”
“Unlawful oil discharges can cause immeasurable harm to the marine environment,” said U.S. Attorney Randy Grossman for the Southern District of California. “We will continue to work closely with our agency partners to safeguard our oceans by vigorous enforcement of environmental laws. This case is a reflection of that commitment.”
“This prosecution highlights the Department of Justice and the U.S. Coast Guard’s dedication in safeguarding our oceans against those that seek to deliberately harm our natural resources,” said Captain James Spitler, Sector Commander, Coast Guard Sector San Diego. “Illegal dumping of oil and falsification of oil record books are egregious violations. This guilty verdict should serve as a reminder that the Coast Guard and our partners at the Department of Justice will work tirelessly to hold accountable those that seek to deliberately discharge oil and falsify records.”
In the same matter, Interunity pleaded guilty to a felony violation of the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships, for failing to accurately maintain the Donald’s oil record book. Under the terms of the plea agreement and subject to court approval, Interunity will pay a total monetary penalty of $1.25 million and serve a four-year term of probation, during which any vessels operated by the company and calling on U.S. ports will be required to implement a robust Environmental Compliance Plan. The monetary penalty includes $312,500 to fund projects, activities, or initiatives intended to benefit marine and coastal natural resources located in or around the Tijuana River National Estuarine Research Reserve.
The U.S. Coast Guard Sector San Diego and the U.S. Coast Guard Investigative Service are investigating the case.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Melanie K. Pierson for the Southern District of California and Senior Trial Attorney Stephen Da Ponte of the Environment and Natural Resources Division’s Environmental Crimes Section are prosecuting the case.