Jul 12

Seizure of MSC GAYANE Raises Forfeiture Issues for the Maritime Industry

A drug bust does not ordinarily fit as a subject of a White Collar Alert, but when law enforcement seizes 16 tons of cocaine from a container ship, the enforcement action raises some critical issues for the maritime industry.  Yesterday, our partner Nicole Phillips, who recently joined our White Collar and Government Investigations Practice Group from the United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, and colleagues Wook Chung and Eric Chang from our Maritime and Transportation Practice Group examined some of the legal issues facing owners and operators of shipping vessels as a result of the seizure.  The alert, Vessel Forfeiture Issues for Carriers Involved in U.S. Government Drug Trafficking or Other Criminal Investigations, examines the implications of the drug bust, including civil and criminal forfeiture.

As an update, just today U.S. Attorney William McSwain announced (by tweet) that his office secured $10 million in cash and a $40 million surety bond from the owner and operator of the MSC GAYANE in exchange for its temporary release pending final resolution of the proceedings.  We continue to monitor developments in this matter and other maritime investigations and can guide those whose vessels are ensnared in criminal investigations through the investigative and legal process.

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