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FMC Establishes Region-Based Investigatory Program; Hires BEIC Director

The Federal Maritime Commission introduced its newly established regionally based structure for the investigatory program during the Commission's meeting on May 3. The meeting covered various topics, including enforcement activity, updates on the implementation of the Ocean Shipping Reform Act of 2022 (OSRA), and the current status of the Maritime Transportation Data Initiative (MTDI).

While enforcement activity was a focal point, discussions involving confidential information were held in a closed session and were not disclosed publicly.

The Bureau of Enforcement, Investigations, and Compliance (BEIC) reported robust enforcement activity, with 191 investigations, 204 enforcement matters, 59 compliance matters, and three formal enforcement proceedings conducted in Fiscal Year 2022. The majority of these actions were directed towards ocean carriers and marine terminal operators. The Commission's efforts have resulted in the collection of over $3 million in civil penalties since 2021.

During the meeting, a new regional organization for investigators was unveiled, aimed at enhancing their ability to address allegations of violations from the public and be in closer proximity to regulated entities. Investigators will be located in various regions, including Region One (New York/New Jersey, Chicago, Norfolk), Region Two (Atlanta, Charleston, Savannah, Miami, Houston), and Region Three (Los Angeles/Long Beach, Oakland, Seattle, Salt Lake City). The Bureau of Enforcement, Investigations, and Compliance will also be expanding its staff across all offices.

The Commission remains committed to successfully implementing the rulemakings mandated by OSRA. In March, a Final Rule was issued, amending the Commission's rules of practice and procedure regarding penalties and refunds to comply with OSRA Section 8. The changes align the regulations with the authority granted by OSRA to order refunds for charges paid under a Charge Complaint proceeding. Progress is being made on two ongoing rulemakings concerning Demurrage and Detention Billing Requirements and Unreasonable Refusal to Deal or Negotiate with Respect to Vessel Space. Additionally, work is being conducted on a rulemaking addressing Unfair or Unjustly Discriminatory Methods, which is expected to follow the Supplemental Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on Unreasonable Refusal to Deal.

Commissioner Carl Bentzel provided an overview of his involvement in the MTDI, which included holding meetings with various industry representatives and hosting a Data Summit in June 2022. Commissioner Bentzel issued a Final Report last month, outlining his findings and presenting recommendations for potential next steps.

FMC Appoints New BEIC Director

Early this month, FMC Chairman Daniel B. Maffei appointed John G. Crews, II, as the Director of the Bureau of Enforcement, Investigations, and Compliance (BEIC). In this role, he will supervise the Commission's enforcement program.

With extensive experience in law enforcement and justice administration, including serving as a U.S. Immigration Judge, Mr. Crews brings valuable expertise to his new position. Chairman Maffei expressed confidence in Mr. Crews' leadership and his role in achieving effective enforcement. Mr. Crews holds a Juris Doctor degree from Southern Methodist University and a Bachelor of Liberal Studies from Boston University, and he is a member of the State Bar of New Mexico.

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