FMC Collects $334,000 in Penalty Payments
Federal Maritime Commission Chairman Mario Cordero announced that the Commission has completed compromise agreements recovering a total of $334,000 in civil penalties. The agreements were reached with five ocean transportation intermediaries (both non-vessel-operating common carriers and freight forwarders) and two unlicensed entities operating as ocean transportation intermediaries (OTIs). The agreed penalties resulted from investigations conducted by the Commission’s Area Representatives in Miami, Houston, New York, Los Angeles and Washington D.C. headquarters staff. The parties settled and agreed to penalties, but did not admit to violations of the Shipping Act or Commission regulations.
In making the announcement, Chairman Cordero stated: “These settlements demonstrate one facet of the Commission’s vigilant efforts to promote a maritime transportation system which is secure, efficient and fair to all lawfully engaged in the international shipping industry. Those who do not abide by our shipping laws pose significant risks, and equally significant burdens, upon the industry and the shipping public. The Commission’s actions should serve as a signal to others about the need to take their compliance obligations very seriously.”
The compromise agreements are:
British Association of Removers Ltd.
British Association of Removers Ltd is a registered non-vessel-operating common carrier (NVOCC) based in the United Kingdom, doing business as Movers Trading Club. It was alleged that Movers Trading Club obtained ocean transportation for property at less than the rates and charges otherwise applicable through the unfair device or means of permitting third parties to access NYK Line service contracts to which such third parties were not contract signatories nor affiliates thereunder; in addition, Movers Trading Club provided OTI services to its customers at rates not in accordance with MTC’s NVOCC tariff. Under the terms of the compromise, Movers Trading Club paid $80,000.
Sparx Logistics USA Limited (Sparx) is a licensed freight forwarder and non-vessel-operating common carrier based in Charlotte NC. Commission staff alleged that Respondent obtained ocean transportation for property at less than the rates and charges otherwise applicable through the unfair device or means of utilizing rates limited to certain “named accounts” in MSC and Zim service contracts; by improperly obtaining access to a Zim service contract to which Sparx was not a contract signatory; and by improperly allowing access to Sparx’ service contracts by another NVOCC not a contract signatory thereto. It was also alleged that Sparx had provided OTI services in the period immediately prior to obtaining its OTI license, and had provided transportation to its customers at rates not in accordance with Sparx’ NVOCC tariff. Sparx made a payment of $80,000 in compromise of these allegations.
Azap Motors Inc. (Azap) is a Florida corporation located in Jacksonville, FL. It was alleged that Azap, through the actions and direction of its owner and chief executive officer, Ali Y. Husein, conducted OTI services without an FMC license, filing a surety bond, or publishing an NVOCC tariff. Under the terms of the compromise, Azap made a monetary payment to the Commission in the amount of $60,000 and agreed to the dissolution of Azap as a Florida corporation.
Wilhelmsen Ships Services, Inc.
Wilhelmsen Ships Services is a licensed and bonded NVOCC and freight forwarder located in Pasadena, TX. It was alleged that Wilhelmsen Ship Services continued operating as an ocean transportation intermediary without a valid Qualifying Individual for a period in excess of one year. Wilhelmsen Ships Services made a payment of $35,000 in compromise of these allegations.
Aromark Shipping LLC. (Aromark) is a licensed and bonded freight forwarder and NVOCC headquartered in Newark, NJ. Commission staff alleged that Aromark violated the Shipping Act by providing service to unlicensed or unbonded NVOCCs in the shipment of household goods to the Dominican Republic and Haiti. Under the terms of the compromise, Aromark made a monetary payment to the Commission in the amount of $32,500.
Knopf International Inc. (Knopf) is a Virginia corporation located in Alexandria, VA, primarily offering international household relocation services on behalf of employees of Knopf’s corporate clients. It was alleged that Knopf continued to conduct OTI services without benefit of an FMC license or bond, disregarding written and oral warnings by Commission staff. Under the terms of the compromise, Knopf paid $24,000.
N/J International is a licensed and bonded NVOCC and freight forwarder located in Houston TX. It was alleged that N/J International continued operating as an ocean transportation intermediary without a valid Qualifying Individual for a period in excess of one year. N/J International made a payment of $22,500 in compromise of these allegations.
The Federal Maritime Commission is the federal agency responsible for regulating the nation’s international ocean transportation for the benefit of exporters, importers, and the American consumer. The FMC’s mission is to foster a fair, efficient, and reliable international ocean transportation system while protecting the public from unfair and deceptive practices.