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Empire United Lines Co., Inc.-Possible Violations of Sections 10(a)(1) and 10(b)(1) of the Shipping Act of 1984, and Section 10(b)(2)(A) of the Shipping Act of 1984 as Amended by the Ocean Shipping Reform Act of 1998, as Well as the Commission's Regulations at 46 CFR 515.31(e) as Amended; Order of Investigation and Hearing

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Notice is given that on August 1, 2002, the Federal Maritime Commission served an Order of Investigation and Hearing on Empire United Lines Co., Inc. (“Empire”) an ocean transportation intermediary (“OTI”) operating as a non-vessel-operating common carrier. It appears that, with respect to thousands of shipments between April 2, 1997 and October 5, 1999, Empire knowingly and willfully provided false information by listing a freight forwarder on numerous bills of lading for Empire's shipments thereby allowing the freight forwarder to collect unwarranted compensation from several ocean common carriers. Also, between April 18, 1997 and December 15, 1998, it appears that on at least twenty-one occasions Empire collected a portion of the unwarranted compensation from the freight forwarder through invoices for various alleged services and products. It further appears that during the same approximate time period, Empire processed twenty shipments documented by invoices that indicate that the rates assessed and collected differ from those set forth in Empire's ATFI tariff.

This proceeding therefore seeks to determine (1) whether Empire violated section 10(a)(1) of the Shipping Act of 1984 (“1984 Act”) by knowingly and willfully obtaining transportation at less than the rates and charges otherwise applicable by the receipt of an unlawful rebate resulting from Empire's collection of a portion of unwarranted freight forwarder compensation from another OTI; whether Empire violated section 10(b)(1) of the 1984 Act and 10(b)(2)(A) of the 1984 Act as amended, by charging different compensation for the transportation of property than the rates set forth in its published tariff; whether Empire violated the Commission's regulations at 46 CFR 515.31(e) as amended, by knowingly and willfully providing false information to several ocean common carriers on documents concerning Empire's shipments; whether, in the event violations of sections 10(a)(1), 10(b), and 10(b)(2)(A) of the 1984 Act and/or 46 CFR 515.31(e) are found, civil penalties should be assessed against Empire and, if so, the amount of the penalties to be assessed; whether, in the event violations of sections 10(a)(1) and 10(b)(1) of the 1984 Act are found, the tariff of Empire should be suspended; whether the OTI license of Empire should be suspended or revoked; and whether, in the event violations are found, an appropriate cease and desist order should be issued.

The full text of the Order may be viewed on the Commission's home page at http//​ or at the Office of the Secretary, Room 1046, 800 N. Capitol Street, NW., Washington, DC. Any person may file a petition for leave Start Printed Page 53354to intervene in accordance with 46 CFR 502.72.

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Bryant L. VanBrakle,


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[FR Doc. 02-20673 Filed 8-14-02; 8:45 am]