Wednesday, January 4, 2017

FMC Penalizes San Francisco NVOCC for Rates Scheme

By Mark Edward

The Federal Maritime Commission has fined a South San Francisco-based Non-Vessel-Operating Common Carrier for alleged violations of Maritime Commission regulations and the Shipping Act.

The company penalized is licensed NVOCC Worldwide Container Transfer Corp., known as WCT. It was alleged that WCT obtained ocean transportation at less than applicable rates and charges by improperly accessing service contracts to which it was not a signatory, in addition to providing service in the liner trade that was not in accordance with the rates and charges in its published tariffs.

It was also alleged that both WCT and a partnering ocean freight forwarder, U-Ocean USA Corp., also located in South San Francisco, operated without a Qualifying Individual – defined as an active partner or corporate officer – for a period of over a year in violation of Commission regulations.

The two companies have made a joint payment of $220,000 in civil penalties, according to the Maritime Commission.

The fines were part of a total of $962,500 in civil penalties announced by the Maritime Commission in mid-December. The FMC said the agreements were reached with one vessel-operating common carrier and nine ocean transportation intermediaries, both non-vessel-operating common carriers and ocean freight forwarders.

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

The accused parties, which included companies based in Texas, Hong Kong, South Korea and China, settled and agreed to penalties, but were not required to admit to violations of the Shipping Act or Maritime Commission regulations.

“Through the investigative and enforcement efforts which have given rise to these agreements, the Commission strives to address past violations, as well as to deter similar conduct throughout the industry,” Maritime Commission Chair Mario Cordero said in a statement announcing the penalties.