Hong-Kong-based shipping company to pay $10 million fine

A Hong Kong-based shipping company has agreed to pay a $10 million (Ђ8.4 million) fine for dumping 40 tons of oil sludge into the Atlantic Ocean, federal prosecutors said Monday.

Coast Guard officials said it is the biggest criminal fine ever paid anywhere in the world in a case involving deliberate pollution from a single&to=http://english.pravda.ru/world/2002/08/15/34635.html' target=_blank>vessel.

Under a plea deal with federal prosecutors in Boston, MSC Ship Management Ltd. has agreed to plead guilty to charges of conspiracy, obstruction of justice, destruction of evidence, making false statements and violating the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships.

U.S. Attorney Michael Sullivan said one of the company's container ships, the MSC Elena, discharged about 40 tons of sludge during a five-month period in 2004 by using a specially fitted steel pipe to bypass required pollution prevention equipment.

Rear Admiral David P. Pekoske, commander of the First Coast Guard District, said the Coast Guard discovered the pipe _ dubbed the "magic pipe" by crew members _ during a routine inspection while the ship was docked in Boston Harbor in May.

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