Two New York City firms that help form Liberian companies and register ships under the Liberian flag are moving to Reston, according to company officials.
Liberian Corporation Services Inc. and Liberian Services Inc. will begin operating out of sixth and seventh-floor offices of the Reston International Center on Feb. 14, according to Fred T. Lininger, the board chairman of both companies. The firms with retain offices in New York, although 60 employees - 75 per cent of the total staff - will work in Reston, he said.
Lininger said Liberian Corporation Services Inc. helps businesses set up companies in the African nation of Liberia. Liberian Services Inc. provides "administrative services" for the deputy commissioners of the Liberian Bureau of Maritime Affairs, which reigsters ships, Lininger said. He himself is a senior deputy commissioner of maritime affairs for Liberia, even though he is an American.
Some ships that sail under the Liberian flag - there are more than 3,000 - have been criticized by environmentalists and U.S. maritime officials in recent weeks since the Liberian tanker Argo Merchant spilled 7.6 million gallons of oil in the Atlantic Ocean off Nantucket Island and five other Liberian tankers became grounded or spilled oil within three weeks of the Argo Merchant disaster.
Some U.S. maritime officials have accused Liberia of making it too easy for ship owners to register their vessels under the Liberian flag. Ship owners traditionally have registered large numbers of ships in the countries of Panama and Liberia, avoiding rates and other requirements wage rates and other requirements that they would face if the same ships were registered in the U.S. or many other nations, these U.S. officials have said.
According to a Liberian Embassy spokesman, a special Liberian commission has been formed to investigate the breakup of the Argo Merchant and the oil spill.
Because of the investigation and other recent Liberian ship accidents, Lininger insisted that he be interviewed in person about the move to Reston and he refused to comment on specific aspects of registering Liberian ships.
lininger said the two companies decided to move to the new town in Fairfax County last spring, after considering the move and various locations during the past three years.
He said Reston was chosen as the new site because of its available office space and its proximity to Dules International Airport. He said the companies will be able to operate much cheaper in Reston that in New York City.
He also said the companies feared losing more of their quality personnel, some of whom have gradually accepted jobs in the New York City suburbs rather than commute into Manhattan.
Lininger said the Reston office is closer to the companies' corporate headquarters, the International Bank at 1701 Pennsylvania Ave. NW. International Bank is a private holding company tht has 85 subsidiaries, said Lininger, who also is a senior vice president of the bank.
Lininger said the Resonton employees will prepare, process and file documents for setting up corporations and registering ships. There will be a daily messenger from Reston to New York, he said.
He said the office, which he sometimes refers to as "the back room paper mill." will do most of the correspondence between the U.S. businesses and Liberia.
He said the actual registering of the ships will continue to be done in the New York office.
Liberian Services Inc. and Liberian Corporation Services Inc. are the second and third New York firms to expand or relocate in Fairfax County in recent months. United Nuclear Corp., formerly located in Elmsford, N.Y., last summer moved its corporate headquarters to 7700 Leesburg Pike.
Mobil Oil Corp. also has announced plans to move its New York corporate headquarters to Fairfax County.