Fuel cargo owners challenge US seizure

The owners of four fuel cargoes that were confiscated by US authorities in August have launched a legal challenge to the seizure

A court filing on Tuesday September 1st with the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia asserted the rights of the owners to control the cargo.

In August the US Justice Department announced the seizure of 1.116m barrels of fuel which it said was destined for Venezuela, which, like Iran, is subject to US sanctions.

In the Tuesday filing UAE-based Mobin International Ltd said it was the owner of the cargo aboard the tankers Bella (IMO 9208124) and Bering (IMO 9149225). UK-registered Oman Fuel said it owned the cargo aboard the tankers Pandi (IMO 9105073) and Luna (IMO 9208100). Oman-registered Sohar Fuel said it part-owned the cargo aboard the Luna.

The companies said they had sold the cargoes onwards to UAE-based Citi Energy FZC, but payment was due upon delivery, which was disrupted by the seizure.

The claimants stated in the filing that “therefore, Claimants Mobin, Oman Fuel, and Sohar Fuel retain a financial stake in those agreements and have immediate right to title, possession, and control of the Defendant Properties”.

The companies also disputed the assertion that the shipments were bound for Venezuela. They said in the filing that “at the time they were seized, the Defendant Properties were destined for Trinidad for sale to customers in Peru and Colombia”.

Insurer American Club’s Chief Legal Officer Daniel A Tadros told IMN that “Bella, Bering, Pandi And Luna are entered with the American Club. The cargo that had been on board these vessels was the subject of a US forfeiture proceeding. The American Club was able to provide cover in accordance with special permission granted by OFAC.”

2000-built, Liberia-flagged, 23.235 gt Bella is owned by Bella Enterprises Co care of manager Vienna Ltd of Piraeus, Greece. It is entered with American Club on behalf of Bella Enterprises Co. Currently recorded by Marine Traffic as Out Of Range – last known location en route from Jujairah UAE to Malta.

1998-built, Liberia-flagged, 27,526 gt Bering is owned by Rifia Shipping Inc care of manager Palermo SA of Piraeus, Greece. It is entered with American Club on behalf of Rifia Shipping Inc. Last recorded on May 11th 2020 in Aegean Sea on route from Sharjah, UAE, to an unknown destination

1996-built, Liberia-flagged 26,218 gt Pandi/Andy (the latter the Equasis nomenclature) is owned by Paladin Maritime Inc care of manager Palermo SA, of Piraeus, Greece. Currently out-of-range. Last recorded position in Gulf of Oman at end of June, having departed Fujairah and “awaiting orders”.

2000-built, Liberia-flagged, 23,235 gt Luna is owned by Luna Enterprises care of manager Vienna Ltd of Piraeus, Greece. It is entered with American Club on behalf of Luna Enterprises Co.