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PTE Ltd pays in full fed court judgment — $100,000 benefits Fagatele Bay NMS

fili@samoanews.com

Days after a Singapore based container company was sentenced and ordered by the federal court to pay $200,000, a judgment that will partly benefit American Samoa, Pacific International Lines (PTE) Ltd., made the payment in full, according to court records.
 
Pacific International, whose freighter Southern Lily 2 was detained in the territory last June by the local U.S. Coast Guard for possible violation of international pollution and U.S. laws, was sentenced Feb. 22 this year after entering a guilty pled to three counts including failure to accurately maintain an Oil Record Book.
 
The federal court in Washington D.C. also ordered the company to pay a total criminal penalty of $2.2 million of which $2 million is the criminal fine and $200,000 for community service payment to go to two U.S. based organizations.
 
One half of the payment goes to the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation (NMSF) for use in the Fagatele Bay National Marine Sanctuary (FBNMS) in Pago Pago to support the protection and preservation of natural resources located in and adjacent to FBNMS and the other half to the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) to fund projects for the preservation and restoration of coral reefs in or near American Samoa, according to the plea document.
 
In a Feb. 26 letter, NFWF’s Timothy J. DiCintio wrote to the attorneys for the defendant saying that the foundation received on the same day, the $100,000 required as judgment by the federal government.
 
“This letter also certified that no goods or services have been provide to you or your client by NFWF in consideration of this payment,” said DiCintio, who also noted that while NFWF is a non profit corporation, it does not provide legal, tax, accounting or related advise to third parties regarding tax deductibility or other tax treatment of specific payments to the Foundation.
 
This letter was filed with the federal court, which also received a Feb. 27 “receipt of funds” memo from NMSF, saying that it received on Feb 26, the $100,000 from attorneys for the defendant.
 
SANFORD LIMITED
 
In January this year, the federal court in D.C. also sentenced New Zealand based Sanford Limited, for similar pollution violations and other criminal acts, after the defendant was convicted last year by a jury.
 
Part of the sentenced calls for the company to pay $500,000 in community service to NMSF for the benefit of the national marine sanctuaries in American Samoa. Court records over the weekend show no indication that the company has made any payment to NMSF.
 
Sanford had indicated last year, after the jury conviction, plans to appeal it. Sanford was convicted of dumping oil waste into U.S. waters outside of American Samoa and falsifying records. The charges stem from the company’s fishing vessel San Nikunau’s visits to Pago Pago over the years.
 
An interesting piece of information surfaced over the weekend regarding this case. The New Zealand Herald newspaper quotes the company’s director Eric Barratt saying that well before Sanford was indicted, the US Department of Justice offered the company a deal.
 
"They said, 'Give us three million and we'll walk away',” he told the N.Z. Herald, which also states that Sanford declined the offer, choosing to instead fight the case in the American courts.  Barratt now says the company should have taken the offer when it had the chance, but accepting such a deal was "just not our culture".
 
"We didn't believe we were guilty," he says and noted that the court case was "an absolutely stressful process.”
 
Because it was the weekend, it was not possible to reach a Justice Department spokesperson for comments on Barratt’s claim that a deal was offered prior to the federal indictment.  However, Samoa News learned prior to the charges filed two years ago, that there were some sort of negotiations between the federal government and Sanford in an effort to resolve the case.



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