SHIPPING lines are placing millions into US accounts to prevent ships being detained due to non-payment of bills for fuel supplied by the bankrupt OW Bunker, reports Reuters.
This is in response to OWB USA and North America aggressively pursuing ship arrests to recover receivables under their bunker supply contracts, reports New York's Maritime Advocate.
Consequently, US$12 million has been paid into a New York District Court to pre-empt arrest of ships for non-payment of bunker which were arranged through OWB, said the report.
In a move to prevent the arrest of the Cosco Piraeus, a New Jersey court ordered that $938,607 be paid into a law firm's trust account to cover bunker supply arrears.
Similarly, shipowners and operators in Singapore have also deposited funds into court to avert the risk of their vessels' being arrested by parties seeking to enforce their claims for non-payment of bunker fuel bills.
A bond for about US$180,000 has been paid into court on behalf of Hapag Lloyd to cover unpaid bunker bills, said Peter Gutowski, a partner in Freehill Hogan & Mahar.
This indicates the growing impact from the collapse of the Danish firm and the biggest bunker provider was spreading.
Amid allegations of fraudulent trading in Singapore, OW Bunker filed for bankruptcy in November after losing almost $300 million, leading to claims by distributors who sold bunker on behalf of OW Bunker but had not been paid.
Some 13 cases involving bunker bills totalling about $12 million have been filed at New York's southern district court, a maritime lawyer said.
US court documents show 11 firms, including Germany's Hapag Lloyd and European gas carrier Exmar, have agreed to pay about $10.3 million into court and a law firm's trust account since November.
A New Jersey judge agreed last week that $938,607 be paid into a law firm's trust account to cover unpaid bunker bills and prevent the detention of the 49,997-dwt containership Cosco Piraeus.
Robert O'Connor of law firm Montgomery McCracken Walker & Rhoads, which acts for OW Bunker USA and OW Bunker North America and took action against Cosco Piraeus, said: "The ship is no longer under threat of arrest."
Source : HKSG.