Phantom vessel trader jailed

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 31 July, 1999, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 31 July, 1999, 12:00am

A South Korean trader has been jailed for three years for selling the stolen cargo from a phantom ship whose vanished crew members, recruited in Hong Kong, are believed to have been murdered.

Lee Dong-gul, 51, was convicted by a court in the South Korean port of Inchon yesterday of illegally acquiring and selling a cargo of aluminium ingots from the Tenyu worth US$4.3 million (HK$33.3 million), according to reports.

His three South Korean accomplices received suspended eight-month prison terms.

The Tenyu disappeared in the piracy-plagued Strait of Malacca between Singapore and Indonesia in September and turned up repainted and renamed three months later in Zhangjiagang, a mainland port near Shanghai.

The two South Korean officers and 13-member Chinese crew, who were hired through agents in Hong Kong, had disappeared and authorities believed they were killed.

Inchon District Court was told Lee claimed he was only following the orders of his employer, a Singapore trading company, in buying the ship and aluminium from two Indonesians and selling them to a Chinese company.