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Carnival Corporation has reached a settlement with American federal prosecutors after it was found that the company’s ships continued to illegally dump in oceans, despite a previous conviction, while all of its ships were on probation.

The group has agreed to pay US$20 million and Senior U.S District Judge Patricia Seitz approved the agreement after Carnival CEO Arnold Donald stood up in open court and admitted the company’s responsibility for probation violations stemming from the previous environmental case.

“The company pleads guilty,” Mr Arnold said six times in a packed courtroom.

“We acknowledge the shortcomings. I am here today to formulate a plan to fix them,” Mr Arnold added.

Carnival admitted to violating terms of probation from a 2016 criminal conviction when one of its Princess Cruises ships was discovered discharging oily waste, and attempted to cover it up.

The group paid a US$40 million and was put on five years’ probation after that case, and all nine of the company’s cruise brands were affected.

The company has now acknowledged that the ships had committed environment crimes such as dumping “gray water” in prohibited areas like Alaska’s Glacier Bay National Park, and knowingly discarded plastic and food waste in the Bahamas.

The company also admitted to falsifying compliance documents and other administrative violations such as having cleanup teams visit its ships just before scheduled inspections.

Under the settlement, Carnival has promised there will be additional audits to check for any violations, restructuring of the company’s compliance and training programs, a better system for reporting environmental violations to state and federal agencies and improved waste management practices.

The agreement includes deadlines of September 13 and October 9, which must be met, and will create an improved compliance plan. The company is subject to fines of US$1 million per day if the deadlines are not met, and if a second round of deadlines are not met, fines could go up to US$10 million a day.