"Combatting Illicit Practices": Stolt Tankers Takes a Stand Against Corruption
Stolt Tankers vehemently condemns the pervasive corruption plaguing the maritime industry, affirming its commitment to integrity and ethical conduct. The chemical tanker company, headquartered in the Netherlands, has been grappling with an alarming rise in bribery attempts targeting its seafarers.
In an effort to shed light on this pressing issue, Managing Director Maren Schroeder recently shared a distressing incident involving one of Stolt Tankers’ masters and a port official. The seafarer received a note, which Schroeder made public through her LinkedIn account, demanding a substantial sum of $600 to circumvent an onerous physical inspection.
The response to Schroeder’s revelation was overwhelming, underscoring the gravity of the situation and exposing the widespread nature of corruption within the shipping industry. It is evident that the sector remains far from achieving the desired standards of integrity and transparency.
Stolt Tankers has adopted a zero-tolerance stance toward bribery and promptly addressed the incident in accordance with its established protocols. The master adhered to the company’s guidelines and informed the port official that compliance with the law, particularly the UK Bribery Act of 2010, precluded any involvement in illicit activities. The captain promptly reported the incident to the superintendent, receiving invaluable support from the on-site agent. Importantly, no financial inducements or material goods were exchanged, and the proposed intrusive inspection never materialized.
To combat the pervasive issue of corruption, Stolt Tankers has joined the Maritime Anti-Corruption Network, an organization dedicated to promoting clean practices within the maritime sector. This strategic alliance reflects the company’s firm commitment to eradicating corruption and fostering a culture of integrity throughout the industry.
Schroeder acknowledged the nuanced perspective surrounding the issue, noting the historical practice of offering cigarettes or bottles of whiskey to pilots as a means of ensuring safe canal passages. However, she stressed that such practices belong to a bygone era.
Initiating a shift in mindset, Stolt Tankers made it unequivocally clear that it would no longer partake in such activities. Predictably, as the company’s steadfast position gained recognition, the frequency of bribery demands subsided significantly. In 2021, out of approximately 6,000 terminal calls, Stolt Tankers encountered a mere three reported incidents of attempted bribery.
However, the post-pandemic landscape has witnessed a disheartening resurgence in corrupt practices, prompting Schroeder to underscore the need for collective action. Breaking the cycle of corruption requires a unified effort to cease the offering of “gifts” or financial incentives. Only through a resolute and concerted stand can meaningful change be realized.
Ian MacLean, a master mariner and partner at the esteemed law firm Hill Dickinson, cautioned that even seemingly innocuous offerings such as cigarettes can constitute bribery if employed to influence the actions of officials. MacLean also highlighted certain red flags that could indicate illicit intent, such as verbal requests for cash payments to settle fines.
Stolt Tankers’ unwavering commitment to combatting corruption serves as a beacon of hope for the industry. By exposing and confronting such unethical practices head-on, the company sets a commendable example, reiterating its dedication to fostering a maritime landscape defined by transparency, legality, and integrity.