19 Apr 2012

Sanford employee admits covering up pollution

9:00 am on 19 April 2012

A worker for New Zealand fishing company Sanford has admitted in a US court covering up an oil pollution incident in American Samoan waters.

Sanford is accused of violating the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships and conspiracy and obstruction of justice after oily bilge waste was illegally dumped from one of its ships between 2006 and 2011.

The former chief engineer on the vessel, Rolando Ong Vano, has pleaded guilty to covering up the dumping by falsifying paperwork and lying to the US Coastguard.

Sanford and another chief engineer are still awaiting trial.

If convicted, the company could be charged more than $640,000 on each count, with the indictment also seeking criminal forfeiture of more than $31 million.