Mon | Aug 20, 2018

Confiscated ship fetches US$10m at Jamaican auction

Published:Friday | January 19, 2018 | 12:00 AM
Attorney at law Vincent Chen.

European shipping interests converged at the Jamaica Conference Centre in Kingston last week for the auction of Malta-registered bulk carrier, Trading Fabrizia, at which a Greek shipper scored the winning bid.

The ship had sailed into Jamaican waters at the end of October 2016 and was 'arrested' on behalf of Italian outfit Jebmed SRL, which was owed a debt of US$699,046 by Capitalease, the owner of the vessel.

The winning bidder, Bluefin Marine of Athens, Greece, paid US$10.3 million for the carrier.

The auction followed a Supreme Court order that Jamaica's admiralty bailiff, Augustus Sherriah, should appraise and sell the ship if Capitalease failed to provide alternative security of just over US$1.9 million to satisfy Jebmed and three other parties to a claim against it. The other parties had made claims for fuel supplied to the ship, wages due to the crew, maintenance and other incidentals.

In the wake of the sale, attorney for Jebmed, Vincent Chen, told the Financial Gleaner that the professional handling of the case by the Supreme Court and the auctioneers was to Jamaica's benefit, saying it "will project confidence to the marine community that Jamaica is an appropriate place for litigation and for sale to take place, because it was properly handled and of First-World standards".

Justice Carol Edwards approved the sale of the ship last June, citing the possibility of depreciation from ordinary wear and tear and the natural elements. The ship had been sitting in the Kingston Harbour since its detention.

Jebmed tried to have the ship released into its possession so that it could take it to dry dock in Malta, where the ship is registered, and sort out the relevant certificates which had expired. However, the court rejected its application.

Chen said Jebmed was concerned that if it tried to sell the ship in Jamaica, the bids would not be sufficient to cover the debt owed.

"But they are very satisfied that they got US$10.3 million," the lawyer added.

London-based shipbrokers CW Kellock and Company, which handled the sale, had advised that bidders could submit their maximum offers in advance and need not attend the auction.

Chen said the advanced tenders ranged from US$3 million to US$7 million - information that was disclosed before the auction opened. However, the bailiff opened the bidding at US$9 million.

mcpherse.thompson@gleanerjm.com