Ministry sets the record straight on MT Strovolos and his team
THE “theft and / or diversion” of some 295,000 barrels of crude oil belonging to Cambodia by the owners, managers and crew of an oil tanker – detained by the Indonesian authorities in July – and their accomplices “constitute criminal acts with regard to relevant Cambodian laws â.
This is according to a new statement released by the Cambodian Ministry of Mines and Energy to assert Kingdom ownership over crude oil and to set the record straight in the controversial Bahamian-flagged MT Strovolos case. .
The Indonesian Navy said on August 25 that it was detaining the tanker and questioning its Bangladeshi captain and two compatriots, 13 Indians and a trio from Myanmar at its base on the Indonesian island of Batam, near Singapore.
And on September 22, the Batam District Court sentenced Captain Sazzedeen SM to 15 days in prison and fined 100 million rupees ($ 7,000) in case number 531 / Pid.B / 2021 / PN Btm for anchoring the ship in Indonesian waters without permission, BenarNews reported citing a court document of the ruling.
Indonesian media previously reported that the captain violated Article 317 in conjunction with Article 193, paragraph 1, of Law No. 17/2008 on Navigation, for which the maximum imprisonment is one year and a maximum fine of 200 million rupees ($ 14,000).
Naval officials said the tanker was loaded with 297,686,518 barrels (nearly 47.33 million liters) of oil and en route to Batam from Thailand.
The charterer of the MT Strovolos is a company belonging to the companies of the KrisEnergy group, which on December 29 extracted the first drops of Cambodia’s oil from the Cambodia Block A offshore concession.
World Tankers Management Pte Ltd (WTM), the operator of the ship based in Singapore, claimed on September 27 that the crew were “innocent” of any wrongdoing and that they were being held “in violation of their human rights”, and that Cambodia’s assertion that the oil cargo was transported illegally was “unfounded”.
“The government of Cambodia has not provided any evidence to the owners to support its claim that it owns the cargo on board the ship,” he said, calling on the Indonesian government to order the immediate release of the ship. crew.
Responding to WTM’s comments on human rights violations, the ministry said: âAt all stages, the Royal Government of Cambodia has respected and will continue to respect the human rights of the crew.
âHowever, still in keeping with this, when criminal offenses are committed, they should be legally prosecuted. There is nothing immoral in doing it.
âThe Royal Government of Cambodia is seeking to bring to justice those accused of committing serious criminal offenses, now that Indonesian proceedings have been concluded.
âThe right to a fair trial and due process is guaranteed to anyone extradited to Cambodia to face prosecution for violation of Cambodian laws, as in this case,â he said.
Addressing the ownership of crude oil, the ministry said it “must correct various claims and statements made in the press on behalf of the owners and managers of MT Strovolos.”
âThe real position is that crude oil has always been the property of the Kingdom of Cambodia,â he said. âThe ownership of crude oil and the violation of Cambodian laws were clearly notified to, among others, the owners, managers and crew of MT Strovolos a few months ago.
“However, they took no action to return the crude oil to the Kingdom of Cambodia, and instead MT Strovolos called at various ports in Thailand and Indonesia, and again shut down his AIS. [automatic identification system] along its passage for considerable periods at various stages.
“[These include] when – leave Cambodian waters without authorization or authorization with crude oil belonging to the Kingdom of Cambodia; leave Thai waters; and enter Indonesian waters, âhe added.
According to a Cambodia-based lawyer, to legally leave the Kingdom, a vessel carrying crude oil must also comply with customs and immigration laws and procedures. To his knowledge, Mr. T. Strovolos left Cambodia around midnight without complying with these procedures. It is also a criminal act which is punishable under Cambodian laws, he said.
He added that in law, and in accordance with the basic principle of justice, prosecuting criminals is also “an act of protecting the human rights of the victim”. In this case, the Royal Government of Cambodia could be considered as a victim of theft or embezzlement of its property.
At the time, the ministry explained, the vessel “left Cambodian waters illegally, it was chartered by a KrisEnergy company which had a contract to develop Cambodian oil reserves”.
âThere appear to have been some disputes under the charter between the owners and managers of the vessel and KrisEnergy. Whatever position was and is, it has nothing to do with the Royal Government of Cambodia.
âCrude oil cannot be the subject of any claim by the owners and managers of MT Strovolos because the crude oil does not belong to the charterer. [KrisEnergy].
âAs has been pointed out, crude oil is the property of the Kingdom of Cambodia. In any case, no claim under the charter agreement justifies or authorizes the illegal departure of MT Strovolos from Cambodian waters and / or the diversion of crude oil, âhe stressed.
The ministry said the arrests were made after an Interpol red corner advisory was issued against the crew at Cambodia’s request. The Indonesian Navy said it recovered the tanker and detained the crew on July 27, three days after the notice was published.
The ministry said the government, “exercising its rights and duties under Cambodian international and national laws, requested through Interpol and in direct contact with the Indonesian authorities that the crew be arrested and extradited to the Kingdom of Cambodia, in accordance with established procedures. in the ASEAN Treaty on Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters and the relevant laws on Cambodia â.
He also pointed out that WTM’s alleged concern for the welfare of the crew, as stated in various press releases, appears to “be at odds with the crew’s failure to respect the safety of life. at sea”.
This is evident “because they deactivated the ship’s AIS at different times and because the crew left Cambodian waters without authorization or authorization with the crude oil belonging to the Kingdom of Cambodia,” he said.
“In addition, they would now, in any event, have organized the rapid return of crude oil to its rightful owner, the Kingdom of Cambodia, and would cease attempting to extract money from the Kingdom of Cambodia for related issues. to any disputes they might have with KrisEnergy.
âWe are grateful for the cooperation we have received from the Indonesian authorities so far and greatly appreciate their help. This reflects the continued strengthening of relations between the Kingdom of Cambodia and the Republic of Indonesia and the ASEAN community, âthe ministry said.
The director general of the Ministry of Petroleum Cheap Sour said on September 30 that the government had submitted all the necessary documents to his Indonesian counterpart regarding his request for the return of all crew members, the vessel and the crude oil.
He told The Post: âNow we are carefully following the procedures of our Indonesian counterparts and Interpol on what we have requested. We will do our best to accommodate all inquiries from Indonesian authorities.