The International Maritime Bureau (IMB) was established under the auspices of the International Chamber of Commerce in an endeavor to reduce maritime fraud. The guiding hand from the beginning has been Eric Ellen who witnessed maritime fraud at first hand when he was Chief Constable of the Port of London.
The problem Eric Ellen saw was twofold. First, that maritime fraud by its very nature took place in several different jurisdictions so that even when it was discovered it was extremely difficult to prosecute the perpetrators. The second problem was that the victims of maritime fraud, knowing that in any case restitution was unlikely, were often too embarrassed to tell the world that they had been fooled.
The International Maritime Bureau (IMB) has made great strides in overcoming merchants’ reticence which has in turn led to the commercial world being made more alert to the sort of fraudulent activity which can be carried out. There is still some way to go to overcome the problem of jurisdiction.
Most countries’ laws only permit them to prosecute criminals for acts taking place within their own territory. Despite these difficulties, The International Maritime Bureau (IMB) has had some excellent results in running fraudsters to earth and successfully persuading the country sheltering the miscreants to prosecute and imprison them.
Amongst other activities, The International Maritime Bureau (IMB) aims to authenticate suspect Bills of Lading and other documents, to disseminate information on maritime crime, to offer advice and assistance in avoiding the risk of fraud, to raise awareness of the dangers of maritime crime and provide help and training with counter-measures.
In 1992, in response to increasing problems with violent criminal activity in the Malacca Straits and elsewhere in the Far East, The International Maritime Bureau (IMB) established a Piracy Reporting Center in Kuala Lumpur. As a result much has been done to heighten awareness of this dangerous crime and led to the prosecution and conviction of many criminals.
An interesting recent development has been the inauguration of a simple and relatively inexpensive satellite tracking system known as SHIPLOC which allows merchants and shipping companies to monitor the exact location of their ships using a personal computer with internet access. Information about SHIPLOC and other activities of The International Maritime Bureau (IMB) can be found through the ICC (International Chamber of Commerce) website www.iccwbo.org