14 Dec 2011

American Samoa govt asks court to deny request from NZ vessel owner

7:27 am on 14 December 2011

The American Samoa government has asked the High Court to deny a request from owners of the vessel San Nikunau to release it from detainment.

The New Zealand vessel is detained on a Customs hold in connection with a US Coast Guard probe over alleged pollution violation.

The investigation is the basis of a federal indictment handed down December 6 charging the vessel's owner Sanford Limited of polluting the waters around American Samoa.

Prior to the indictment, Sanford petitioned the American Samoa High Court for an order enjoining the ASG treasurer Magalei Logovi'i, Chief Customs Officer, their agents and attorneys from withholding departure clearance for the San Nikunau.

The company contends it has not violated any local laws.

But government attorney, Jay Zales, said the local government does have authority to hold the San Nikunau and has asked the High Court to deny Sanford's request for injunctive relief.