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Korean Oil Tanker Fined $1.8M for Hawaii Spill

HONOLULU (CN) - Covering up the illegal dumping of oily waste into Hawaiian waters will cost a Korean shipping company $1.8 million, a federal judge ruled.

Through its attorney Michael Purpura of Carlsmith Ball, Keoje Marine pleaded guilty last week to felony obstruction of justice, violating the Clean Water Act and keeping intentionally inaccurate oil records.

U.S. District Judge Leslie E. Kobayashi imposed the sentence immediately, ordering three years of probation and a $1.8 million fine.

The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation will get $225,000 of this amount as community service to clean up Hawaii's waters and improve coral reefs. Henry Borla Dupa, a crew member of the Keoje Tiger, will get $150,000 as the whistle-blower who first reported ship's illegal activity to the U.S. Coast Guard.

"Part of Dupa's duty was to inspect the fire-fighting equipment on the ship which also included fire extinguishers in the engine room," according to a government motion. "It was during these inspections that he discovered and photographed the illegal discharge connection."

"But for the fact that Dupa came forward with the photographs, the Coast Guard may have never inspected that valve for oil and the crimes could have gone undetected," prosecutors said.

Keoje Marine operates out of the port of Pusan in Busan, South Korea.

U.S. Attorney Florence Nakakuni led the prosecution with help from Marshall Silverberg, Ignacio Moreno and Kenneth Nelson.

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