Tuesday, February 23, 2016

FMC Fines Calif. NVOCCs

By Mark Edward Nero

The Federal Maritime Commission said Feb. 18 that it has completed compromise agreements with four ocean transportation intermediaries -- including two in California -- and one vessel-operating common carrier, recovering a total of $520,000 in civil penalties.

The intermediaries include both non-vessel-operating common carriers (NVOCCs) and freight forwarders. They include Ba-Shi Yuexin Logistics Development Co. Ltd., a licensed and bonded NVOCC based in Alhambra, Calif. and Thornley & Pitt, Inc., a licensed NVOCC and freight forwarder in Millbrae, Calif.

Ba-Shi Yuexin Logistics was alleged by the FMC to have obtained ocean transportation for property “at less than the rates and charges otherwise applicable” in its service contract with NYK Line. The company was also accused of providing transportation to its customers at rates not in accordance with Ba-Shi’s NVOCC tariff.

Under the terms of the compromise, the company paid $100,000 in penalties.

Thornley & Pitt was alleged by Commission staff of knowingly and willfully obtaining transportation at less than applicable rates by improperly obtaining access to service contracts to which Thornley & Pitt was not the contract signatory.

Under the terms of the compromise, the company made a payment of $65,000.

NVOCCs and freight forwarders in Germany, Taiwan and New York were also fined between $50,000 and $170,000 under similar allegations.

The penalties resulted from investigations conducted by Commission area representatives in Seattle and New York, as well as by Washington DC headquarters staff.

Although the parties settled and agreed to penalties, they were not required to admit to violations of the Shipping Act or Commission regulations.