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Environmental Fraud

This archive displays posts tagged as relevant to fraud in environmental programs and policies. You may also be interested in the following pages:

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May 24, 2022

The owners of the Motor Vessel Joanna, Empire Bulkers Limited and Joanna Maritime Limited, will pay $2 million and plead guilty to violations of the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships, admitting to knowingly falsifying the ship’s Oil Record Book to conceal unlawful discharges of oil.  Modifications to the vessel’s oil content monitor had been made so that discharge samples from the oily water separator were diluted with fresh water, thereby leading the oil content monitor to report erroneous concentrations.  DOJ; USAO ED LA

March 9, 2022

Chevron Phillips Chemical Company LP has agreed to pay a $3.4 million penalty and undertake compliance measures valued at $118 million to resolve a federal complaint regarding alleged violations of the Clean Air Act and related laws arising from its flaring at petrochemical facilities in Cedar Bayou, Port Arthur, and Sweeney, Texas.  The government claimed that Chevron Phillips failed to properly operate and monitor its industrial flares, which resulted in excess emissions of harmful air pollution at the three facilities.  EPA

Top Ten Environmental Fraud Recoveries of 2021

Posted  02/11/22
forest with trees
This year’s environmental fraud Top Ten list includes enforcement actions against automakers, oil and pipeline companies, metal producers and recyclers, energy companies, and serial offender Monsanto. We didn’t see as many blockbuster settlements in 2021 as we did in 2020, despite the Biden administration signaling its focus on environmental fraud as an enforcement priority. Nonetheless, the 2021 enforcement...

January 31, 2022

Signal Peak Energy LLC (“Signal”) was fined $1 million and sentenced to three years of probation for violating environmental and worker safety regulations at Signal Peak Mine near Roundup, MN. According to the government, Signal habitually violated mandatory health and safety standards in the Mine Safety and Health Act during the mine’s operation. These violations included both environmental safety and worker safety standards. The violations occurred with the full knowledge, direction and participation of the mine’s most senior management during that period, including the president and CEO, the vice president of surface operations, the vice president of underground operations and the safety manager. USAO MN

January 10, 2022

Following his guilty plea on charges related to the filing of false tax returns claiming nonexistent fuel tax credits, Michael Dexter Little was ordered to forfeit $12.3 million and sentenced to 19.5 years in prison.  Little and his fellow fraudsters filed false tax returns in their own names and in the names of identity theft victims, and laundered the proceeds via real estate and other assets. USAO MDFL

December 9, 2021

Monsanto Company has agreed to plead guilty to charges that it used a glufosinate ammonium-based pesticide, sold as Forfeit 280, on corn fields in Hawaii, and then allowed workers to enter the fields during a six-day restricted-entry interval after the product was applied.  Monsanto will pay $12 million and undertake specified environmental compliance programs.  The government further alleged that Monsanto’s actions violated a 2019 Deferred Prosecution Agreement regarding Monsanto’s unlawful spraying of a banned pesticide, methyl parathion, the active ingredient in Penncap-M, on research crops at one of its facilities on Maui. USAO CD Cal

October 13, 2021

West Shore Pipe Line Co. and Buckeye Pipe Line Co., the owner and operator, respectively, of a crude oil pipeline located near Lockport, Illinois, will pay a $1.2 million civil penalty and $7.2 million in damages to resolve federal claims arising from a 2010 breach in the pipeline that discharged 1,800 barrels of oil into a protected wetland.  DOJ

Shining a Light on Fraud in the Energy Industry

Posted  10/1/21
This week brought not one but two newly announced False Claims Act (FCA) settlements with companies in the energy sector: (1) Oklahoma-based energy company Devon Energy Coporation settled claims it underpaid royalties for natural resources, and (2) National Grid, a utility company in New York settled claims it falsified reports to a local power authority to cover up mismanagement and wasted State electricity. The two...

September 23, 2021

Shipping company Diana Wilhelmsen Management Limited was ordered to pay $2 million following its admissions that it violated the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships.  DWM admitted that its vessel, M/V Protefs, unlawfully discharged oily bilge water and knowingly kept a false oil record book.  DOJ; USAO ED LA

August 6, 2021

Chandra Yarlagadda, who owned and operated biodiesel supplier Alpha Bioenergy LLC, was sentenced to two and a half years in prison and ordered to pay restitution of $3.3 million following his guilty plea to income tax evasion charges.  Yarlagadda, who reported income and expenses associated with Alpha Bioenergy on Schedules C attached to his personal income tax returns, admitted that over the course of three years he reported that the company incurred expenses totaling more than $14.2 million for the purchase and retirement of Renewable Identification Numbers (RINs) used by the EPA, when, in fact, he had incurred only $80,000 in RIN expenses during those years.  Without the inflated deduction claims, Yarlagadda would have owed an additional $2.3 million in federal income taxes.  DOJ
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