Fuel supplier loses US$4m bid against Argentine firm
A mainland marine fuel supplier has failed in its bid to secure claims for unpaid bills totalling more than US$4 million against an Argentine shipping company.
Chimbusco Pan Nation Petro-Chemical, which is owned by Cosco and PetroChina, had claimed US$4.22 million for fuel supplied to the dry cargo ship Decurion and 10 other ships it said were controlled by Maruba SCA.
But Hong Kong Admiralty Judge Anselmo Reyes ruled that while it was accepted there could be a claim against the Decurion, Maruba SCA did not control the other 10 vessels. As a result, Chimbusco was due only US$85,460 owed by Maruba SCA for fuel supplied to the 64,200 deadweight-tonne Decurion.
In an eight-page written judgment following a hearing on Monday last week, Reyes said Chimbusco had relied on 'a number of facts and matters' in its evidence that Maruba SCA controlled the 10 container ships. These included a presentation by Maruba Group staff to Chimbusco when the first fuel contract was signed saying the Maruba Group provided service between the 'Far East and South America under the brand name Clan'.
Other evidence included charter payments and guarantees made by Maruba SCA for the Clan ships and guarantees given to South Atlantic Container. Name cards given by Maruba Group personnel to Chimbusco staff showed the Maruba SCA and Clan logos.
But the judge said: 'There is undoubtedly evidence that Maruba SCA, Clan and South Atlantic are associated with each other. But that alone would not mean that Maruba SCA was in 'control' within the meaning of that term' in the High Court Ordinance.
Chimbusco had the Decurion arrested in Hong Kong in August 2010 in pursuit of 20 unpaid fuel contracts on it and the 10 other ships. The vessel was sold for US$5.2 million in May last year after a judicial sale ordered by Reyes, despite an attempt by lawyers acting on behalf of Maruba to get the auction postponed.
Three appeal court judges ruled in January that Reyes should have given Maruba SCA more time to file a defence before ordering the sale of the Decurion.
Proceeds from the sale were paid into the Admiralty Court and remain under court control pending the outcome of legal action by Chimbusco and other claimants seeking to recoup US$9.7 million in unpaid bills. These include fuel supplier Fratelli Cosulich and ship chandler Man Sang (China) which provisioned the Decurion and other ships.