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Signals™ Headlines - August 4, 2004

FMC Collects $549,000 in Penalties for Alleged Shipping Act Violations

The Federal Maritime Commission announced that it has recently entered into compromise agreements which resulted in the collection of a total of $549,000 in civil penalties. These agreements are the result of investigations by the FMC Bureau of Enforcement into violations of the Shipping Acts by vessel operating common carriers, ocean transportation intermediaries (OTIs) operating as forwarders and/or NVOCCs and unlicensed entities. In concluding these compromises the parties involved did not admit any violations of the Shipping Act or FMC regulations. Details are as follows:

Cap Barbell, Inc., Body Q, Inc. and Hepta Run, Inc. are proprietary shippers affiliated through common ownership and located in Houston, TX. Hepta Run, Inc., an affiliate of Cap Barbell and Body Q, is a licensed OTI also located in Houston, TX. These parties allegedly violated the Shipping Act by permitting unlawful access to service contracts, by accessing service contracts to which they were not signatory and by providing transportation services to OTIs without tariffs, bonds or licenses. In addition, it was alleged that Hepta Run violated the Commission’s regulations by failing to provide proper information to the Commission. Cap Barbell, Body Q and Hepta Run made a payment to the FMC of $180,000 to settle these allegations.

Star Trans Container Line Ltd., Star Trans-Pacific International Forwarding Co. Ltd., Star Airfreight Company Limited and Star Airfreight Company Limited (California). Star Trans Container Line Ltd. (Star Hong Kong) and Star Trans-Pacific International Forwarding Co. Ltd. (Star Shanghai) are tariffed and bonded NVOCCs; Star Airfreight Company Limited (New York) (Star NY), and Star Airfreight Company Limited (California) (Star CA) are their U.S. destination agents. It was alleged that Star HK and Star Shanghai violated the Shipping Act by obtaining and allowing other persons to obtain ocean transportation at less than the applicable rates by means of false weighing, false measurement, and/or commodity mis-description and/or by permitting other shippers to unlawfully access their service contracts. It also was alleged that Star HK violated the Shipping Act by providing ocean transportation not in accordance with the rates and charges set forth in its published NVOCC tariff, and that Star NY and Star CA provided OTI services without first obtaining an OTI license or bond. The FMC received a payment of $85,000 from the Star Companies to settle these allegations.

Zen Continental Co. Inc. and Sunway Line Inc. Zen Continental Co. Inc. is a licensed NVOCC and freight forwarder with offices in Paramount, CA. Sunway Line Inc. is a licensed NVOCC co-located with Zen Continental in Paramount, CA. It was alleged that Zen Continental unlawfully collected forwarder compensation on shipments booked on behalf of Sunway, and failed to seek prior Commission approval for changes to its FMC Qualifying Individual, and failed to report changes in its organization to the FMC Office of OTIs, as is required Commission regulations. Under the settlement agreement reached, Zen Continental and Sunway paid the FMC $79,000 in settlement.

Antillean Marine Shipping Corp. This Miami based vessel operator common carrier (VOCC) operates in the U.S. foreign trades, including trade between the U.S. and the Dominican Republic. Antillean allegedly violated the Shipping Act by providing transportation services to and entering into service contracts with ocean transportation intermediaries that did not have tariffs, licenses or bonds. Additionally, it was alleged that Antillean violated the Commission’s tariff filing regulations, by failing to publish historical data in its tariff. Antillean has paid $60,000 to the FMC in settlement of these allegations.

MP Lines De Mexico, S.A. de C.V.

Hub Shipping Company, Inc. and Hub Forwarding Company, Inc. are affiliated companies located in Cohasset, MA. Hub Shipping is a licensed NVOCC and Hub Forwarding is a licensed freight forwarder. The FMC alleged Hub Forwarding received forwarding compensation on shipments made under a Hub Shipping service contract in violation of the Commission’s regulations. The companies have paid $35,000 in settlement of these allegations.

Sea-Line-Cargo, Inc. is an NVOCC located in New York, NY. It was alleged that Sea-Line violated the Shipping Act by acting as an OTI without having published a tariff, secured an OTI bond, and without first obtaining an OTI license. Additionally, Sea-Line is alleged to have unlawfully entered into service contracts in the trades between the United States and the Dominican Republic. Sea-Line paid $25,000 to settle the allegations.

Atallah Business Group, an NVOCC located in Miami, FL was alleged to have violated the Shipping Act by operating as a NVOCC without a license, tariff or proof of insurance. Attalah has paid $20,000 in settlement of these allegations.

Margaret J. Zimmer, a sole proprietor, is a licensed OTI forwarder located in Houston, TX. Zimmer allegedly violated the Commission’s regulations by operating as an OTI prior to the issuance of a license, by conducting business under a name other than the licensee and by entering into an agreement with an unlicensed entity resulting in the receipt of compensation by the unlicensed entity. Zimmer made a payment of $20,000 in compromise of these allegations.

FMC Commissioner Brennan Reappointed for 5-Year Term

FMC Commissioner Joseph E. Brennan was recently sworn in for another five-year term. President George W. Bush nominated Brennan in March, and the U.S. Senate confirmed this appointment in May. Commissioner Brennan’s first term began in 1999 following nomination by President William J. Clinton. His new term will expire September 30, 2008.

Since becoming a Commissioner, Brennan has participated in many aspects of the Federal Maritime Commission. During 2003 he was the fact finding officer in the FMC’s investigation into the service-contract practices of the Transpacific Stabilization Agreement (TSA). This investigation led to an extensive compromise agreement with the TSA, and prompted changes in the Commissions regulations of service-contracts.

Commissioner Brennan has a long history of public service. He was elected governor of the State of Maine in 1978 and served from 1979 to 1987. Prior to his governorship Brennan served as the minority whip in the Maine House of Representatives from 1965 to 1971 and the district attorney of Cumberland County from 1971 to 1972. He served as the minority floor leader in the Maine State Senate from 1973 to 1974 and became Maine’s attorney general in 1975.

After his terms as governor, Brennan represented Maine’s First District in the U.S. Congress from 1987 to 1991. He also oversaw maritime matters as a member of the Armed Services Committee and Merchant Marine and Fisheries Committee. From 1991 to 1995 Brennan worked as an attorney at the law firm of Verner, Liipfert, Bernhard, McPherson & Hand in Washington, D.C. Commissioner Brennan served in the United States Army from 1953 to 1955, earned a B.S. in economics from Boston College in 1958 and a J.D. from the University of Maine, School of Law in 1963.

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