The Federal Maritime Commission announced nine compromise agreements,
resulting in the collection of $732,000 in civil penalties. These agreements are the result of investigations
conducted by FMC Area Representatives of the Office of Operations into violations of the Shipping Act. Staff
attorneys with the Bureau of Enforcement negotiated the compromise agreements announced November 30, 2006. In
concluding these compromises the parties involved did not admit any violations of the Shipping Act or FMC
Mediterranean Shipping Company (U.S.A.), Inc., a VOCC, allegedly allowed other persons to obtain
ocean transportation of property at rates less than those established in its tariff or service contracts by the
unlawful use of equipment substitution. MSC also allegedly provided service in the liner trades during this same
time period not in accordance with its tariff or service contracts. In compromise of these allegations, MSC paid a
civil penalty of $280,000.
Seaboard Marine Ltd., a VOCC, allegedly violated the Shipping Act by entering into service
contracts and accepting cargo from or transporting cargo for NVOCCs that did not publish tariffs or maintain bonds
as required by the Shipping Act. Seaboard paid a civil penalty of $200,000 in compromise of these allegations.
Interglobo Morra N.A. Inc., a licensed freight forwarder located in Jersey City, New Jersey,
allegedly violated the Shipping Act by serving as agent for A.L.S. Associazione Logistica Spedizionieri
S.R.L., a foreign NVOCC located in Genoa, Italy, and receiving compensation for shipments made on behalf
of A.L.S. Additionally, A.L.S. allegedly misdeclared shipment measurements in order to obtain discounts under
equipment substitution provisions. Interglobo Queirolo USA Inc., an unlicensed entity, allegedly
operated as an OTI without obtaining a license or bonding. Interglobo Morra, A.L.S. and Interglobo Queirolo
together paid a civil penalty of $110,000 in compromise of these allegations.
Swat International Inc., a licensed OTI located in Jamaica, New York, allegedly unfairly obtained
ocean transportation for property at lower rates than would lawfully apply by accessing service contracts to which
it was neither a signatory nor an affiliate, by improperly describing the commodities shipped, and through the
unlawful use of equipment substitution. In compromise of these alleged Shipping Act violation, Swat International
paid a civil penalty of $30,000.
America First International, Inc., a licensed ocean transportation intermediary located in Miami,
Florida, allegedly violated the Shipping Act by operating as an NVOCC without a tariff, license, or bond. In
compromise of these allegations, America First paid a civil penalty of $25,000.
The Norton Line Inc., a licensed OTI located in Long Beach, California, allegedly obtained ocean
transportation of property at rates less than those that would have otherwise been applicable by unlawfully
accessing service contracts to which it was neither a signatory nor an affiliate, and through the unlawful use of
equipment substitution. In compromise of these alleged Shipping Act violations, Norton Line paid a civil penalty of
Star Freight Solutions, Inc., a licensed OTI located in Santa Fe Springs, California, allegedly
obtained ocean transportation for property at lower rates than would lawfully apply by accessing service contracts
to which it was neither a signatory nor an affiliate, and through the unlawful use of equipment substitution. Star
Freight paid a civil penalty of $22,000 in compromise of these allegations.
Sobe Enterprises, Inc., a licensed OTI located in Miami, Florida, allegedly operated as an NVOCC
without publishing a tariff, obtaining an OTI license, or bond. A civil penalty of $20,000 was paid in
compromise of these alleged violations.
Willy Express Shipping, Inc., an NVOCC located in Bronx, NY, allegedly operated as an NVOCC
without publishing a tariff, obtaining an OTI license, or bond. It paid a civil penalty of $20,000 in
compromise of these alleged violations.
In a decision that must have surprised most of the participants, the Federal Maritime Commission rejected proposed
settlement agreements with several of the parties named FMC Docket 06-01.
The Commission’s formal investigation in Docket 06-01 involves unlicensed entities that operated primarily in
Florida as NVOCCs and/or ocean forwarders handling international household goods shipments. The FMC Bureau of
Enforcement had negotiated settlement agreements with four of the parties named in this docket to compromise their
alleged Shipping Act violations. Nevertheless, in an Order issued November 29, 2006, the FMC
Commissioners reconsidered and formally reversed an earlier decision made by FMC Administrative Law Judge to approve
the proposed settlement agreements. The Commissioners stated that the proposed agreements were not in the
“public interest,” and ordered further proceedings and an investigation into whether the claims of the
injured shippers were resolved.
The Commission’s formal investigation in Docket 06-01 involves nine unlicensed entities and several of their
officers that operated primarily in Florida as NVOCCs and/or ocean forwarders handling international household goods
shipments. During 2004 and 2005, the Commission received over 250 consumer complaints against the companies named in
Docket 06-01, viz: Moving Services, L.L.C., International Shipping Solutions, Inc., Dolphin International
Shipping, Inc., Worldwide Relocations, Inc., All-in-One Shipping, Inc., Boston Logistics Corp., Around the World
Shipping, Inc., Tradewind Consulting, Inc., Global Direct Shipping. These companies and their
officers are under investigation for a long list of alleged Shipping Act violations, including operating without
obtaining OTI licenses, proof of financial responsibility (bonds), or published tariffs for their NVOCC services.
Additionally, the companies also allegedly failed to establish, observe, and enforce just and reasonable
practices. Consumer complaints included lost cargo, unreasonably high rates for cargo release, and failure of
delivery/obtaining insurance. Due the high number of complaints the Commission obtained a preliminary injunction from
the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida on January 17, 2006 prohibiting some of the parties
from acting as NVOCCs.
On May 2, 2006, the FMC Bureau of Enforcement (BOE) and four respondents submitted joint memoranda in support of
proposed settlements. Proposed joint settlements were filed by BOE and Respondents Joshua S. Morales and
All-in-One Shipping, as well as by BOE and Respondents Daniel E. Cuadrado and Around the World Shipping, Inc.
All four respondents admitted to operating without a license, tariff or bond in violations of sections 8(a)
and 19 of the Shipping Act, and withdrew their OTI license applications, or agreed not to file OTI license
applications for one year from the date of the settlement agreement. Morales and Cuadrado further agreed not
to be involved with any ocean transportation services company in any capacity other than as employees.
Respondents also agreed to cooperate with any ongoing investigation or enforcement related to the Docket, and to
work to resolve any unsettled consumer complaints. According to the settlement agreements, the four
Respondents had disclosed information related to their own activities, as well as the activities of other named
parties in the docket. On May 23, 2006, an FMC Administrative Law Judge (ALJ), citing the Commission’s
policy to encourage settlements, approved the proposed settlements in an Initial Decision.
However, the FMC Commissioners were dismayed with the large number of complaints, and the failure of proposed
settlements to specifically deal with redress of consumer complaints. The Commissioners particularly noted
that investigation into alleged violations of Section 10 of the Shipping Act (Prohibited Acts) was lacking, and
requested further elaboration on these violations. The initial decision in Docket 06-01 was due on January 11,
2007; however, it is likely the matter will remain under investigation and negotiation for some months.
The Trans-Atlantic Conference Agreement (TACA), the Transpacific Stabilization Agreement (TSA)
and the Westbound Transpacific Stabilization
Agreement (WTSA) have each announced extensions to current fuel surcharges. The TSA and WTSA
Carriers will extend their current Bunker and Inland Fuel Surcharges until Jan 31, 2007. TACA has extended current
its Bunker Adjustment Factor (BAF) and Currency Adjustment Factor (CAF) until at least Jan 15, 2007.
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